Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Tuesday Poem: Moor Divock

1.  The Avenue

Bog cotton ghosting over hags -
the scattered
skeletons of winter sheep.

A larks’ song runs
like beck-water over stones
in the largeness of the wide sky
opening above me

and the burnt fragments of my ancestors
under my feet.

This is where I want the lime ash
of my own cremated bones
to re-enter the earth.

2.  Kop Stone

A granite singularity

tipped askew

on the sloped contours of the moor

like the rudder of a stone ship

3.  Cairn

Shy among the bracken.
Shelter for predators.
A shooting hide.  One
foxhole tunneled
under the kerb.

4. Cockpit

Princess in the ring
who will you choose?
Man or maiden?

Listen to the wind
the nibbling sheep
their stuttering language.

The larks fall silent
at the buzzard’s call.

Clouds in procession
over the stone avenue.

Do you remember the light?
Cloud shadow staining the fell
like a birthmark?

5.  Altar Stone

A square grey face
staring at the sky.

In the hollowed eye
of rain-water

a single digit of bone.

6.  Cairn Circle

Guess-work and intuition in
an up-turned bowl of stone.

A door slammed
when they rolled the rock
across the entrance for the last time.

6.  Cist

A diagram
of distant galaxies

or sea creatures
coffined in the limestone lid.

I curl myself into
this stone sarcophagus

a cramped space barely
wide enough for shoulders.

Grave goods; rucksack, camera, notebook.
I could be here a long time.

A flask of water.  Sandwiches.
The past broken open

rinsed clean by centuries of rain.

7.  Hut Circles

The wood has rotted away
from the stone foundation
leaving a circle of different green.

Across the bracken
you can see the round houses of the dead
biding their time.

All our lives, all our deaths
bound by a fiery ring of stars.

© Kathleen Jones 2014

This is a poetry and photo diary of a walk across Moor Divock - a bronze age stone avenue and cairn circle site in the fells above Ullswater in the English Lake District. There are also hut circles where people once lived and it is also crossed by an ancient roadway called High Street.  I love to walk there and feel such a strong connection with the distant past.  From the moor I can see the hills where I was brought up on a tiny, isolated farm, and I can look down on my favourite lake.  When you're up there you can't help but think about the cycles of life and death, the rise and fall of civilisations. When I die I want my ashes to be scattered in this ancient place.

If you'd like to see what the other Tuesday Poets are posting, please click here to visit the site.  The Tuesday Poem blog features poetry from around the world every week. 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Tuesday Poem: In That Year, by Kim Moore

In That Year

by Kim Moore

And in that year my body was a pillar of smoke
and even his hands could not hold me.

And in that year my mind was an empty table
and he laid his thoughts down like dishes of plenty.

And in that year my heart was the old monument,
the folly, and no use could be found for it.

And in that year my tongue spoke the language
of insects and not even my father knew me.

And in that year I waited for the horses
but they only shifted their feet in the darkness.

And in that year I imagined a vain thing;
I believed that the world would come for me.

And in that year I gave up on all the things
I was promised and left myself to sadness.

And then that year lay down like a path
and I walked it, I walked it, I walk it.

Copyright Kim Moore
First Published in Poetry News
from The Art of Falling
to be published by Seren in 2015

There are some poems you read and feel a moment of recognition because there's a kind of visceral crunch as they connect with your own experience.  This is one of those poems. I particularly love the final couplet which has been true for me.  I'm still walking it.

Kim Moore is an award-winning poet living in Cumbria in the north of England where she is a brass music teacher. Her first pamphlet, If We Could Speak Like Wolves,  was chosen by Carole Ann Duffy for the Poetry Business award in 2012 and also selected as one of The Independent's books of the year.   Kim blogs here.

About 'In That Year' - Kim Moore comments: "This poem is from a sequence of poems exploring domestic violence.  The sequence will be in my first full length collection "The Art of Falling" which will be published by Seren in 2015."

If We Could Speak Like Wolves is published by Smith/Doorstop and is available both in paperback and in e-book format from the publisher and from Amazon.

You can find Kim and more of her poetry on Wordpress at http://kimmoorepoet.wordpress.com/

The Tuesday Poets post great poetry from all over the world every Tuesday.  If you would like to see what other Tuesday Poets are posting today, please hop over to the Tuesday Poem Blog and check it out! 

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Tolstoy's Letters to Gandhi

Leo Tolstoy:  Letters to a Hindu

"Tolstoy's letters issue a clarion call for nonviolent resistance – he admonishes against false ideologies, both religious and pseudo-scientific, that promote violence, an act he sees as unnatural for the human spirit, and advocates for a return to our most natural, basic state, which is the law of love. Evil, Tolstoy argues with passionate conviction, is restrained not with violence but with love – something Maya Angelou would come to echo beautifully decades later."

I hadn't realised that Tolstoy and Gandhi had had such an extensive correspondence. But it made me sad to read these letters from an age where someone could write "Love is the only way to rescue humanity from all ills" and have some hope that it could be achieved.  We live in an age where violence has become the standard reaction to difficult situations, internationally and in our own communities.

I agree with the author of this article, Maria Popova, that Tolstoy's   "words bear extraordinary prescience today, as we face a swelling tide of political unrest, ethnic violence, and global conflict."

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

A writer's holiday

This blog has been on holiday for the last couple of weeks, mainly because I haven't had the energy at the end of the day to post anything at all.  It's been a blistering few weeks, jetting backwards and forwards between Italy and the UK, trying to keep the UK house from crumbling into the river bank, seeing the Offspring, and attempting to sell a few books.  What I need is a holiday!  But that got me thinking. . .

Don't look now - I'm writing!

Everyone's heard the expression 'a busman's holiday', ie not really being on holiday at all - but what about writers?  'A writer's holiday' would be a more appropriate saying, because writers have no holidays at all.  We are continually on the receiving end of 'input' even if we can switch off 'output'.

See that bikini clad woman lying on the beach towel, eyes closed behind the shades?  She's eavesdropping a conversation between two people having an argument under a nearby umbrella.  Notice the notebook strategically placed next to the iced drink and the sun tan lotion.

'Spot the Writer' is a good game.  Sometimes they pretend to be listening to music on their i-pods but this is just a ruse to prevent people talking to them - a vain attempt to shut off 'input'.  I've tried everything, but whenever I travel the people next to me, the taxi drivers, the cabin crew, all seem to want to tell me the stories of their lives.  I've got the material for shelves and shelves of novels I will never write.

Then there's the sunsets, the 3am Cosmic Questions, the way the light falls on the sea, a bird at just the right angle above the mountain, the man with the gleaming teeth who appears in the bar every evening with a different woman, the girl selling bracelets on the street outside, a  mysterious note delivered to your cubby hole in the hotel . . .  They all need to be written down by the crazy addict desperate for another fix of Words.

These days, i-pads are making it difficult to spot the scribblers.  They might look as though they're simply texting or updating Facebook, while sneakily editing the Great Novel.  You might even be in it - your appearance and conversation recorded for posterity.  That's what writers do - they steal other people's lives and put them between glossy covers and they are never, never off-duty!

Now I'm off again, this time to take charge of grandchildren who don't want to go on holiday with their parents - and daughter and tiny ones are back from Cuba, so there's going to be a houseful. Probably won't have the energy to blog again until September - but you never know!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Tuesday Poem: 'I sing because I sing', Mahmoud Darwish and Yehuda Amichai

This week I'm posting a powerful poem by one of the great Palestinian poets, the voice of exile, Mahmoud Darwish, and another by one of the greatest Israeli poets, Yehuda Amichai, writing about the loneliness of exile and the need for homeland. 

Earth Poem

A dull evening in a run-down village
Eyes half asleep
I recall thirty years
And five wars
I swear the future keeps
My ear of corn
And the singer croons
About a fire and some strangers
And the evening is just another evening
And the singer croons

And they asked him:
Why do you sing?
And he answered:
I sing because I sing . . .

And they searched his chest
But could only find his heart
And they searched his heart
But could only find his people
And they searched his voice
But could only find his grief
And they searched his grief
But could only find his prison
And they searched his prison
But could only see themselves in chains.

©  Mahmoud Darwish

Half the People in the World

Half the people in the world love the
other half, half the people hate the
other half . Must I, because of those
and the others, go and wander and
endlessly change, like rain in its cycle,
and sleep among rocks, and be rugged
like the trunks of olive trees, and hear
the moon bark at me and camouflage
my love with worries, and grow like the
timorous grass in between railway
tracks, and live in the ground like a
mole, and be with roots and not with
branches, and not rest my cheek upon
the cheeks of angels, and make love in
the first cave, and marry my wife under
the canopy of beams which support the
earth, and act out my death, always to
the last breath and the last words,
without ever understanding, and put
flagpoles on top of my house and a
shelter at the bottom. And set forth on
the roads made only for returning, and
go through all the terrifying stations -
cat, stick, fire, water, butcher, - between
the kid and the angel of death?

© Yehuda Amichai

Yehuda Amichai was born in Germany to an Orthodox Jewish family who emigrated to Palestine in 1935.  He fought in World War II and began writing poetry in 1946 while stationed with the British Army in Egypt. Amichai later fought in the Israeli War of Independence, the 1956  Sinai War, and then in the Yom Kippur War of 1973. His experiences led to a complete change of heart. He became an advocate of peace and reconciliation in the region, working with Arab writers.  One of his poems, "God has pity on kindergarten children", was read at the Nobel Peace Prize presentation in 1994.  He died from cancer in 2000.

Mahmoud Darwish was born in Palestine in 1941 and is regarded as the Palestinian national poet. In his work, Palestine became a metaphor for the loss of Eden, birth and resurrection, and the anguish of dispossession and exile.  One of his last collections was called ‘Unfortunately it was Paradise’. His voice, more than any other, articulates the suffering of the Palestinian people.  It was written from personal experience.  His family were farmers, but their village near Galilee was invaded by Israeli forces in 1948 and razed to the ground to prevent the inhabitants from returning. Darwish spent some time living in Haifa where he fell in love with a Jewish woman - a relationship that could not be allowed.  He left Israel to study in 1970.  Darwish spent most of his life in exile, being allowed to return to live in Ramallah in 1995. He was an outspoken critic of the rivalry between Fatah and Hamas, as well as the Israeli state.  One of his most famous poems is  "A Soldier Dreams of White Lilies", featured in the film ‘Id-the identity of the soul’. He died from heart failure in 2008.

If you would like to see what other Tuesday Poets are posting around the world then please hop over to the Tuesday Poem hub and take a look. 

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Tuesday Poem: Union Local '64 by Tim Bowling


Last night I caught the boy I'd been
in fishnet and gutted him
on the government wharf
by the light of an oil lamp
hung from my dead father's hand.
Above the dyke, over the road,
the town was just the same:
weeping willows, widows,
whale-stains on the cheesecloth walls
of the first houses
and an overwhelming sense
of a last breath being taken.
The worst of it was
the ordinary blood
on the ordinary wood
and my father saying
as he gazed out to sea
"It's no good.
The companies won't pay.
They didn't pay for mine
and they won't pay for yours."
I watched him through my mother's eyes
as he sighed and bent
to the stiffened body of our time
together not worth one red cent
to anyone and picked it up
and took his life and mine away again.

From Circa Nineteen Hundred and Grief  (Gaspereau, 2014) by Tim Bowling

(Photo by Barry Pettinger)

Cross-blogged from VĂ©hicule Press

"Tim Bowling has published numerous poetry collections, including Low Water Slack; Dying Scarlet (winner of the 1998 Stephan G. Stephansson Award for poetry);Darkness and Silence (winner of the Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry); The Witness Ghost; andThe Memory Orchard (both nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award). He is also the author of three novels, Downriver Drift (Harbour), The Paperboy's Winter(Penguin) and The Bone Sharps (Gaspereau Press). His first book of non-fiction, The Lost Coast: Salmon, Memory and the Death of Wild Culture (Nightwood Editions), was shortlisted for three literary awards: The Writers' Trust Nereus Non-Fiction Award, the BC Book Prizes' Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize and the Alberta Literary Awards' Wilfred Eggleston Award for Non-Fiction. The Lost Coastwas also chosen as a 2008 Kiriyama Prize "Notable Book." Bowling is the recipient of the Petra Kenney International Poetry Prize, the National Poetry Award and the Orillia International Poetry Prize. Bowling was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2008. A native of the West Coast, he now lives in Edmonton Alberta. His latest collections of poetry are Tenderman (Nightwood),  and Circa Nineteen Hundred and Grief."

Monday, 28 July 2014

Know your rights - with Ryanair customer service

This morning it was breakfast on the terrace with apricots and peaches in hazy sunshine with the Mediterranean somewhere in the distance.  But it almost didn't happen due to huge thunderstorms that deluged the area around Pisa, closing the airport for hours.  The Ryanair plane I was due to fly on was still stuck on the ground at Pisa at the time it was due to take off from UK.  7 hours in Liverpool airport is no joke!!  There was very little information on the ground - a lot of rumours, but I found their customer service impeccable.  Ryanair get a lot of knocks, but I'm a frequent flyer (sometimes 2 or 3 times a month) and have been for years and this is the first time I've encountered real problems. They may not be lovable, but they are certainly efficient - I can usually rely on them to be on time.

I'm registered with Ryanair, which makes it easier to book since they have all my details already, and was pleasantly surprised that I got regular text messages updating me on the progress of the flight which were far more accurate than the departure board.  I was even able to tell fellow sufferers what time the flight had left Pisa!  After a 2 hour delay, they began giving out vouchers for food and drink at the Ryanair gates, which you could get by showing your boarding pass. At 6.30pm I was sent an email telling me the estimated time of the flight departure and telling me that I could cancel and get my money back immediately if I wished, or that I could transfer free of charge to any other Ryanair flight that had seats.  In the end I waited, arriving in Pisa in the middle of the night, facing a long taxi ride home (which I can claim on  my travel insurance).  I'm copying the info at the bottom of this post, just in case anyone wants to be sure of their rights in a similar situation.

I got back to the house in torrential rain to find branches off trees, water everywhere, no electricity and a stinking fridge full of mouldy food - apparently a storm earlier in the week had kicked out the power. Not the kind of homecoming I'd planned, but all is back to normal this morning.  And I have no complaints about Ryanair's customer service - they've obviously been listening to critics.  It must have been a nightmare for them, because 12.30am Sunday  morning they had a plane and crew in Pisa that were supposed to be in Malta and lots of other planes around Europe all in the wrong places, not to mention a lot of disgruntled passengers! Spare a thought for the operations manager.

Now, I'm off to enjoy the sun before the next storm due to arrive early tomorrow......

Dear Customer
Ryanair sincerely apologises for the delay to your flight the FR9626, from Liverpool to Pisa on the 26-07-2014.
Please see below the 2 options available to you:
1. Transfer from the delayed flight to another Ryanair flight - Free of Charge
When a flight is delayed more than 2 hours after its scheduled time of departure, you can (if you wish) transfer from the delayed flight free of charge (subject to seat availability) to an alternative Ryanair flight to/from different departure or destination airports or via another airport served by Ryanair, please contact Reservations (subject to opening hours) or go to the airport ticket desk/handling agent desk.
If you transfer to a new Ryanair flight on the same or following day and cannot re-print your boarding pass it will be re-issued free of charge at the airport ticket desk.
2. Apply for a refund if you choose not to travel
If due to the flight delay you wish to cancel your reservation and claim a full refund of your unused flight(s) please go to the ticket desk in the airport or contact our Reservations Department (subject to opening hours). Refunds will be
processed in 7 working days back to the form of payment used to pay for the original booking
Click here www.callcardpins.com
 to view the access number from your country then dial that number and enter the following unique 10 digit pin 5964363761 to receive your free phone credit valid for 24 hours from the time of issue.

Click on the following link for information on Passenger Rights under EU Regulation - EU261/2004 – 14.2 NOTICE
We again sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused by this flight delay.

Yours sincerely
Ryanair Customer Services