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nemo's (nemo on UKA) UKArchive
202 Archived submissions found.
Title
Distemper (posted on: 04-07-16)
Distemper: early type of paint before emulsion; a deranged condition of mind

From the age of mangles and kitchen pulleys, it had a smell as unforgettable as steam on washing days, which were always Mondays - four pale green walls of it in the booming back bedroom where she used to leave him. Still, he had a friend to wave to in the wardrobe mirror, a silent, sobbing, bar-rattling partner in distemper, when she didn't come. That cot was a godsend, housework took all day, she said, as she proudly remembered his first memory - a woman's achievement nothing would take away.

Archived comments for Distemper
Mikeverdi on 05-07-2016
Distemper
A bleak portrayal of life, back in the day. I never suffered as a child, I was fortunate.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. I didn't know about this till my mother told me years later. I still managed to have a happy childhood.
Regards, Gerald.


The Grove (posted on: 27-06-16)


The grove was the best location the gang had for reshooting sixpenny matines - holidayfuls of Tommy's Revenge and Escape from Stalag Luft III. It was a take-it or take-it friendship that meant it was your duty to escape, punishment to be enjoyed by you, in turn, always your turn, in a smelly, muddy hole. Nonchalant extras strolled across the set, walking dogs, seeing no evil; guards loaded caps, planning revenge. You enthusiastically collected branches and bricks to weigh down the roof, pulled it over you, sat tight and waited.

Archived comments for The Grove
Mikeverdi on 27-06-2016
The Grove
Yep, I remember it all. Another great trip down memory lane Trevor.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. Just trying to keep things going on this site.
Regards, Gerald/Trevor.

Pronto on 29-06-2016
The Grove
Lovely and brings back memories of childhood. No mobile phones or X-boxes just the pure joy of imagination.

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Pronto.
Nemo

pdemitchell on 29-06-2016
The Grove
I am back in my woodland den with this one. happy times and now just an echo as the modern kids of that age now pale and curl around endless X-Box armageddons. Mitch

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Mitch.
Regards. Gerald


Disused Quarry (posted on: 20-06-16)
DANGER - KEEP OUT

It was when the tadpoles got too old for the sweet-jar that he went to the quarry, performed the necessary ceremony, and first felt paternal. The water rippled baptismally, as they submerged, shaking off tails in convoys of adulthood. Approving, the sun patted his head, as he turned, on reconnaissance, leading the way up the cliff. And there was the crane! Abandoned, gun-barrel drooping, its last dog-fight acted out on a boy's battle-field. The levers what a sorry crew they made, the way Monty's men had to leave them, limb-stiff, to the heat and flies: the engine still smelled of heavy action, dripped imagined suffering, retribution . Suddenly, the Sunday-school sensation was there, squatting in the reeds of his mind, its frog-eyed surveillance, at tongue's length, like a sniper ready to pick him off if he didn't keep low, in hand-to-hand retreat.

Archived comments for Disused Quarry
Savvi on 20-06-2016
Disused Quarry
Truly delightful Gerald a lovely extended metaphor, I particularly enjoyed the last stanza and the description of setting free the tadpoles in the first. Best Keith

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Keith. This is an old one, from 1988.
Regards, Gerald

Pronto on 22-06-2016
Disused Quarry
Brought back a lot of memories of playing in an old quarry in the early fifties. It could be the Wild West or a pirate ship (Highly dangerous makeshift raft)anything we cared to make it.
Sadly my tadpoles always died.
Loved this poem.

Author's Reply:
I'm pleased you liked it, Pronto. Thanks.
Regards, Nemo.

sweetwater on 22-06-2016
Disused Quarry
Lovely write, took me right back to the freedom and exciting possibilities of wandering free across all the acres of common's around my home as a child, standing on a log in the middle of a pond watching the newts. You have written so much imagination into this poem, it absolutely takes one there. Sue.

Author's Reply:
Many thanks,Sue. I think children had more freedom to roam and explore in the fifties.
Regards, Gerald.

pdemitchell on 22-06-2016
Disused Quarry
Hi Gerald - I was blown away by the simple; "shaking off tails
in convoys of adulthood". A delightfully nostalgic descriptive piece. Mitch


Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mitch. I'm pleased you liked it. Not blown too far away, I hope.
Gerald

cooky on 12-07-2016
Disused Quarry
Excellent write from the first line to the last. Particularly liked the opening verse.

Author's Reply:


The Street (posted on: 17-06-16)


I kept asking myself why. Why was I going back? Would you? Will you? Why? The M1 and then the M6, mile after mile, and this question kept nagging me, like a lingering hangover, or teeth set on edge by a cold. Going back was it something everyone wanted to do or did? To relive the past, for what it was worth? It wasn't as if anyone I knew or had known lived there anymore. I parked at Woodside; now a vast empty space for the wind to rampage around like a hooligan on Saturday night, and the familiar salty smell gusting off the river nearby greeted me like an old friend. Woodside, the trees long gone to make ships for King Henry, had been a station once. A huge cathedral of a station, high-roofed, a whole history book of journeys, vacations, evacuations, soldiers, many leaving, not so many returning, and holidays with my aunt in the South, packed off on my own. The age of steam: the smoking, towering engines that had terrified and captivated the small boy with their fiery smell, their sudden, unexpected belches of steam. Trains that ran for a hundred years between Birkenhead and London, and then stopped - for progress. Nothing left but an invisible past and the cinders of the unmade car park that crunched unceremoniously beneath my feet. Spilling carelessly out of their car, some hooded youths hurtled past and sped down to the pier head, their laughter stinging like an insult, steaming in the cold air. The Pride of Birkenhead: it was a ferry I remembered, well past the end of its life, aching and shuddering as it churned away from the pier, its haul of passengers heavy with their thoughts and themselves, and instantly forgettable impressions of the moment. A subdued and sombre River Mersey returned my gaze no use looking for the ocean-going liners, no more ships bringing sugar and tea, having discharged their cargoes of slaves on the other side of the world this once great port of Liverpool had been on the dole for fifty years and was still looking for work. The ferry docked. I was in Liverpool. I had been ferried across the Mersey, once again, and not a guitar in sight. Arrogant and unrepentant, the profit of empire and exploitation, the city's majestic buildings loomed high above me as I progressed past the Liver building, the banks, the department stores, the Walker Art Gallery, St. George's Hall, Lime Street Station until I reached Beyond. Beyond was a residential slum, in various stages of being pulled down. The City of Culture 2008 was rebuilding itself. Putting on a new face. But it had missed a bit - the terraced street I was looking for, and finding now: the madeleine in the tisane, raising associations of my father and his friend, Mr Hobbs, the watch repairer. It was late afternoon - and noticeably autumnal. The street had that tired-of-waiting-are-we-there-yet-look. You could sense the frustration suspended between the houses like washing left out too long, greying and taking on a rancid smell, giving back to the wind. And soon, the street seemed to close in on me, like a gang of thugs emboldened by the fading light, poised to pounce. Here and there, unable to stand any longer, a house had been taken away. On either side, the patchwork of wallpaper made a show, like a domestic scene. In tatters. Would-be mechanics fiddling with a car in someone's lounge, followed me with furtive eyes. Now and again, there would be houses boarded up and waiting to go; or others, the front door wide open to the street, emitting intimate smells; and the drooling dog with a bark from hell; its bloated bull of an owner snarling from the back room, in a greasy vest, ''Looking for someone, pal?'' Fearing even no answer might provoke him, I would hurry by, pretending not to have heard, dodging the dogs' mess and holding my breath past the piles of uncollected rubbish, abandoned by the latest strike. Mothers on doorsteps would eye me tensely, as if I bore bad news like a telegraph boy, then would look to their children, the shrill shrieks of warning echoing down the street. Suddenly came a yelp of ''Goal!'' from a group of youths as their burst football was belted furiously against an end wall, as if ferocity alone could fashion their future. Or give them hope. Likewise, on another wall, the graffiti, grafting girl to boy, forever. Fiction like. The happy hours I had spent in Mr Hobbs's house, and afterwards the going home with my father, back across the river - time had moved on - the house had gone. There was a gap. Hesitating with age, the yellowing street lights flickered and came to life, with their deceptively comforting glow. Time to turn and make my way back across the river. Deal with another nagging question. Or just deal.
Archived comments for The Street
Mikeverdi on 17-06-2016
The Street
Oh this is a grand piece Gerald, some wonderful descriptive passages. On the dole for fifty years and still looking for work. Just brilliant. Good to see another side to you with this prose piece.

If your looking for critique, to much use of the word 'like'. I don't think you need it in most cases...just saying:)
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks,Mike. This was the homework for an English class of mine in 2008, to write a descriptive piece about the street in a play they were reading. I thought in all fairness I'd better have a go myself.

I first posted tbis in 2013 and I have a faint memory of it bekng selected for the 2014 Anthology. Am I right? Do you have a copy? I'd very grateful if you could let me know.
Cheers, Gerald.

Savvi on 18-06-2016
The Street
I love going back, there is something selfish and indulgent about doing it and it is always tinged with a hint of melancholy, but hey who cares, a great piece of writing Gerald that I can totally relate to. Best Keith

PS I seem to remember a stunning poem also that came from staring at the empty space where the house once was. 🙂

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Keith. Thanks for commenting. I think the other poem was 'Bombsite.' I reposted it with an extra bit on 26-10-15.

Regards, Gerald.

pdemitchell on 19-06-2016
The Street
Greatr lines in there: "their laughter stinging like an insult, steaming in the cold air."

Great sepia'd indulgence on memory lane. Felt the last line was superfluous as the preceding line was a good closer IMHO. Mitch

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mitch. Re your thought about the ending, I wanted to avoid simply having the narrator going back home and everything being happy for him ever after. I see him being haunted by nagging questions about his existence.
Regards, Gerald


The Wall (posted on: 10-06-16)


A try-again-dinner picked up off the floor, a you-can-do-better carton of cold tea, crumpled, with naughty-boy bent straw, bedwetting from the table, not wheeled away, pulled-off legs, still cycling to work, black toes, snagging aertex blanket, baring Belsen buttocks, and a farted mess to rub reality in. The nice vicar had a way with words: death's a wall and one day we'll see what's on the other side - the need for a good run-up and mind the barbed wire, tactfully omitted, I thought, remembering pulling off the motorway six months before, and the blood bypassing the narrow roads of his brain - the rest of him needing it as he reached for the door with me ringing and her with her trouble in the bathroom, shrieking don't go. And then his slipping, eyes averted, from his chair, made me the stranger he'd never tell what he could see behind him. No last-minute bequest, just an overripe head to catch, the terror in her eyes, and myself hoping he'd go for it there and then - but, always a shopkeeper, he carried on and carried on, after closing time. What a good idea of hers to pop into the nice vicar's church-hall at Christmas to cure the empty house and see about that wall - pity about the children and their toys, getting under her feet.

Archived comments for The Wall
Mikeverdi on 10-06-2016
The Wall
Oh Gerald, the bleak, staring reality of this hits right between the eyes. Painful to read...but so well written.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Mike. Thought I'd re-post an old one. We need as many people as possible to contribute. Lots more.

Regards, Gerald

pdemitchell on 12-06-2016
The Wall
Hi Gerald - well writ and stark descriptive. I am exhorting everyone I know to join and post! Mitch

Author's Reply:
Hi, Mitch. I'll post again for Friday. Thanks.
Gerald.


A Family Man (posted on: 06-06-16)    


''Mr Hussein sends his apologies: things are difficult at work; he can't change his shifts anymore to come to these meetings.'' We shall miss you, Mr Hussein. Dexterously your chubby brown fingers wove the fabric of your story, the magic carpet that has flown us into the private mosaic of your heart. Your broken English tumbled from your lips, gurgled as it ran along the rills, brought new life to scorched fields halving the hurt we'd hawked before you while you alone held together the simple home the monsoon tried to wash away. Not with them, for they have broken your windows, those who also came to England to find a better life; cancelled too your daughter's marriage, arranged all those years ago; not even with your wife, at her respectful distance of ignorance, can you share your greatest hurt not the desert trek from doctor to doctor, your sickly child in your arms, not the vulture thermalling the uncertain cure, but knowing that no one wants to ride her bike, that she's lost her friends like handfuls of pretty hair on the bedroom floor. No, Mr Hussein, we haven't forgotten you; we think we should try to see you again.

Archived comments for A Family Man
Mikeverdi on 06-06-2016
A Family Man
Stunning, for me a work of great depth, showing your true ability as a great writer. Please accept my Nomination.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks for the nom, Mike. Glad you liked it.
Cheers, Gerald

Pronto on 07-06-2016
A Family Man
I, too, like this a great deal the story telling is superbly captivating.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Pronto.

Regards, Nemo

pdemitchell on 07-06-2016
A Family Man
I second the en-nibmentation. the magic carpet that has flown us /into the private mosaic of your heart. BOOM! Not the vulture thermalling the uncertain cure. Excellent composition. Mitch

Author's Reply:
Many thanks. Mitch.

Regards, Gerald

Supratik on 09-06-2016
A Family Man
Stunning. Flawless.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for liking this, Supratik.

Gerald


Not for Discussion (posted on: 03-06-16)
Offering this again.

When she fell ill, I told him the same day. It's terrible, it's terrible these words were all he said or could find to say, man to man, over the fence, and two yards' gap landed me another planet away. We play the pat posturings of pretence: Christmas card for card, my proffered spanner at his garage door, his squeezed-out comments on the weather the lips are kept thinner, and it's a brick wall now, not a flimsy fence. A man tanked in double glass, chubbed indoors, cavity-valiumed with TV, he's wired for all-round bliss; hermetic dcors admit no fear, keep out What's-his-name who's a real-life reminder of what he ignores. Clearly behind smiles, I'm supposed to hide! Mankind I thought we travelled together: cruising round the sun, a shared cabin-ride? No, a man may ground himself whenever the sensors detect the Invader outside.

Archived comments for Not for Discussion
sweetwater on 03-06-2016
Not for Discussion
Loved all the clever lines in this, ' pat posturings of pretence', 'chubbed indoors', and 'cavity valiumed'. It's a very sad look at locked away lifestyles of those who choose to hide and not face today's real world. Sue.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Sue. I'm pleased you liked it.

Gerald

Mikeverdi on 05-06-2016
Not for Discussion
Sadly all to true, facing reality is getting harder, so easy to lose oneself, with the Internet bringing everything to our screens. This is a terrific piece Gerald, again one I don't remember. I like it to much to critique, maybe the use of the explanation mark...how petty is that! HaHa.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks again, Mike. I'm pleased with this poem. It got published many years ago.

Same old problem, though, you're almost the only one commenting. Doing a sterling job. I will try my hand at commenting again. I just need things to settle down with my family so I have more time again.

Gerald


Aprs Trois Ans (posted on: 03-06-16)
A homage to the French poet who described a garden he revisited after three years.

Paul Verlaine pushed open the creaking garden gate. Dew glistened on the flowers in the morning sunshine. Everything was familiar, he said: the humble vine creeping round the arbour, the rattan chairs, the fountain's silvery murmur, the old aspen muttering to itself, roses fluttering and lilies standing proud in the breeze; the larks, all recognisable again, even the Veleda statue, still standing, at the far end of the path, its plaster flaking as before, vulnerable, in the insipid scent of mignonette, and ... nothing had changed. As if I would ever believe that! And yet his time-arresting voice stilled my breathing, like Barber's Adagio.

Archived comments for Aprs Trois Ans
Mikeverdi on 05-06-2016
Après Trois Ans
Yep, that does it for me Gerald. I don't remember this one, so thanks for the read.
Mike

Author's Reply:
I'm pleased you liked it, Mike. Thanks, Gerald.


Departures (posted on: 29-04-16)
Another re-post - sorry - from eighteen months ago. I've nothing new and so may not post again for some time.

I have often stood bemused across the river from fabled Pocahontas' grave, once Defoe country, his brickworks and Crusoe, a place you don't name for fear of ridicule, now a murk-rippled Thames' scummy shoreline. Arriving seagulls shriek in derision; dingy dredgers dawdle like shifty tramps; lumpen container ships insult the humbled port; cranes droop and rust, rail tracks disappear under shabby weeds - the only life reclaiming this stretch of river. A lone angler stares at the unyielding water, scant hope in a desolate place. Behind me a whiteboarded pub, 'The World's End', named by a jester as though this miserable river front could ever match Finis Terrae. Yet in some ways it does. It is the crumbling jetty, the visible vestige, of our old world - tall ships, clippers, cutters and coasters, purveyors of empire and ten pound liners heading out to Australia. Departures with no landmark, no Three Graces or torch bearing statue, no nostalgic image to hold dear. Just a dismissive wave of a hand.

Archived comments for Departures
pdemitchell on 30-04-2016
Departures
Still good 18 months on - hope you find your muse again! mitch

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Mitch.
Regards, Gerald.


Sea Breezes and Passsers-by (posted on: 08-04-16)    


To what end, from Mallarm's example, do I now assemble thoughts of sailing somewhere I shall never know and, arriving, discover was never there? For better the hell of where I am: on my unCarribean island awash with cars rolling up the motorway and rolling back; with these - not melon-smile neighbours that doze on their porch - but surly sods making a quid round the back, or banging home from the pub, as I settle for the monotony of British grub. To what end, Baudelaire, in your sonnet, did you once celebrate eyes that met, paths that crossed in a Parisian street, your glimpse of a woman you might have loved? For better the hell of who we are: bricked into ourselves, in rooms of our own, not knowing, not seeking, other universes; not being over the road, drawing curtains on mistresses' afternoons; not jumping universes to outlive the rollers' run, or fuck the impossible arrayed in the sun.

Archived comments for Sea Breezes and Passsers-by
Mikeverdi on 08-04-2016
Sea Breezes and Passsers-by
This is pure brilliance Gerald, please accept my nomination. Good to read you're words again.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks for the nom, Mike. I'm pleased you like it.
Cheers, Gerald.


Tree Love (posted on: 18-03-16)


We have to love our apricot tree, and love it extra hard in winter. That's when we have to love its brain pulsing with synaptic sparrows, love its coursing veins and arteries x-rayed against the retinal sky. We have to love it for braving it out when dripping wet and aching cold, love it for defiantly sleeping rough, for not coming in at night, not even when bent with snow or gnawed by frost. We even have to love it for making do with sorry scraps of slimy slough scavenging worms have chewed and shat. And we have to love it, too, in spring, when our unconditional love is returned with sprigs of bridal blossoms, a Derby Day hat plumed in glistening green, and, if we've really loved it hard enough, a grinning pride of cherub-bottomed babes.
.
Archived comments for Tree Love
sweetwater on 18-03-2016
Tree Love
Absolutely my type of poem, your words are a wonderful combination of simplicity and beauty, and I loved your "cherub-bottomed babes". Sue. 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Sue. I'm pleased you liked it.

Gerald

pdemitchell on 18-03-2016
Tree Love
Line 3, 4, 5, 6 = socks blown off and atomised. Some of awe and then some. Paul

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Paul. Cold today, best put your socks back on.

Gerald

Mikeverdi on 19-03-2016
Tree Love
Well that's different Gerald. I had to read it several times to get the point, but that's just me being thick. Got it now, it's not my favourite of yours, but again that's just me; and that doesn't mean it's not good.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by and reading, Mike.
Cheers, Gerald.

Supratik on 19-03-2016
Tree Love
Love me the most when I deserve it the least. I was reading unconditional love already, then stopped when the words were fed... not needed according to me. But a wonderful arrival of true love in the poem Tree love. Yours, Supratik

Author's Reply:
Hi Supratik. I thought that line was going to be too monosyllabic and stark so 'unconditional' was duly slotted in for a more baroque effect.
Regards, Gerald.


The Evening of the Zeebrugge Car Ferry Disaster (posted on: 04-03-16)


Heading out of the docks, a lorry turns full-steam into the road; its headlights splash on windows blinking at the evening news. Across the way, a telephone rings several times, and receives no reply. Lower down the road, the pub closes, discharging its contents like a sluice. Next-door flushes, shouts his children back to bed. Yawning cars turn in. We hear a ship lowing at the bar, impatient to come in for the night. The clatter of a train sweeps the sky like a litany of prayers for those at sea. The telephone rings, and will ring again, louder, and louder, probing black water.
(The flooding and subsequent capsize of the roll on/roll off passenger ferry Herald of Free Enterprise, on 6 March 1987 as it left the port of Zeebrugge, Belgium, resulted in the loss of 193 lives.)
Archived comments for The Evening of the Zeebrugge Car Ferry Disaster
Mikeverdi on 04-03-2016
The Evening of the Zeebrugge Car Ferry Disaster
I remember it well, horrendous. A touching write Trevor.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks. Mike.

Cheers, Gerald. AKA Trevor.

pdemitchell on 05-03-2016
The Evening of the Zeebrugge Car Ferry Disaster
Vivid stuff marking the event and the subsequent tasteless comments such as "he's steaming ahead with his bow-doors open" in the House of Commons and "I heard they have these new RO-RO-RO ferries: Roll on Roll off Roll over" on Radio 4. Yrch y fi. This was a worthy image-clad homage to those who lost their lives. Well done. Paul

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Paul.
Thanks, Gerald

gwirionedd on 04-04-2016
The Evening of the Zeebrugge Car Ferry Disaster
I remember this, too, although I was only six years old when it happened. It was scary for me, and put me off boat travel for a while. There were a lot of big disasters around that time, for some reason. Hungerford, Hillsborough, Lockerbie etc.

My best friend knows somebody who survived the Zeebrugge disaster. Apparently he was stuck in a flooding room and rescued a drowning woman who is now his wife. Which is incredibly beautiful, I think.



Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Gwirionedd.

Cheers,Gerald.


After Seeing Thomas Hood's Poem on the Underground (posted on: 22-02-16)    


I remember, yes, I too remember the house where I was born, and the only photograph I remember is the one I do not have of the front, taken before the war which commandeered for bombs the railings and the wrought-iron gate. I remember the jagged stumps, and the missing gate, like a loss of face; the absurdity of the cloche hats of my mother sadly smiling sadly; of my kind aunt, too, with no kids to spoil, who kindly spoilt me with plums till I was sick, and saved up her suicide for her retirement. I remember the dining-room, agony of long evenings, wind howling under floor-boards, lino lifting, reek of smoke filling the air, the Bakelite wireless in the corner, wheezing and spluttering in and out of life, my father causing friction twiddling dials. I remember the air-raid shelter my parents shared with old Mrs Weaver till the last all-clear, the cat that sulked in the cherry-tree if left for a day; flour-faced Mrs Weaver, my first death at eight; the cat at ten, just a whiff of gas, after his trouble in the coal-shed. I remember the landing, where I stood and it was always cold, and I'd call that I couldn't sleep, as they niggled away downstairs, the one coal fire petering out, a smouldering rumble of a row she would miss when he'd gone. I remember the front room, conserved for special occasions and never used, icy as a monk's cell, my Meccano retreat. I google and see new railings, a new gate - I imagine phantoms gliding from room to room, trampling over the boy on the landing as they traipse through the man on the train.

Archived comments for After Seeing Thomas Hood's Poem on the Underground
Gothicman on 22-02-2016
After Seeing Thomas Hoods Poem on the Underground
Well Gerald your eternal literary kinetoscope is whirling round again! But, as your work like this poem is of such high quality, always an intriguing and pleasurable read each time, for me, you're one of the few gifted poets who can get away with it.
I know you're pushing on now, but I cannot believe you've blown the gaff in that creative brain of yours! I do think it's harder for good free verse poets to keep up the delicate nuances involved in late ageing, that is, as opposed to rhyme specialists, but, I for one am living in hope that your Muse wafts back down the Essex valleys soon! Your writer's block may be because you set your standards too high, but new work reflects you the person now, and would feel so much better to risk something? Anyway you have a brilliant repertoire to fall back on; this one much enjoyed.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Trevor - I think I've recycled every poem I've written so I'm stuck for a while with no new stuff on the potting wheel. If there were any valleys in sunny Essex, then perhaps a muse would blow down one waving a new idea for me to leap out of my lethargy to grab. Thanks for the encouragement.
Gerald.

pdemitchell on 22-02-2016
After Seeing Thomas Hoods Poem on the Underground
Hi Gerald. I am awash with sepia'd nostalgia with my closed and phosphene-flaring inner eye sparkling with the rain of incendiaries. This is a well-paced free-form album-flick of images that reflect in the mind's eye of the old man in the street staring down at the cardboard-soled shoes of the forties' homes of boyhood. Brilliant! Paul

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Paul, I'm pleased you liked it. Gerald

Mikeverdi on 25-02-2016
After Seeing Thomas Hoods Poem on the Underground
You know I love these memory lane trips of yours, I don't care if there old....so am I. Keep them coming old friend.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Hi Mike.I guess the nom is from you - many thanks! Better to re-post than not to bother, I think, while I wait for new poems to come along.

Best wishes, Gerald.

franciman on 26-02-2016
After Seeing Thomas Hoods Poem on the Underground
Hi Gerald,
I too am in the gaping jaws of 'block'. This piece is redolent of the Nemo we know. Subtle, descriptive work that beckons the reader in. Recycling older work is good for both the writer and the reader, I would say. I'd have nominated this myself. I'll certainly vote for it.
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Jim. I'm pleased you like this poem. I'm ignoring the block and not getting uptight about it, concentrating instead on a new year on my allotment.
Cheers, Gerald.

Savvi on 04-03-2016
After Seeing Thomas Hoods Poem on the Underground
It's all been said Gerald but couldn't leave without saying how much I enjoyed this...superb Keith

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Keith. I'm pleased you enjoyed it.

Cheers, Gerald.


Non Sequiturs on a Saturday Afternoon (posted on: 05-02-16)


A sprinkling of spring sunshine and I bet people have already forgotten there was misery on the roads yesterday because of fog, but I'm not forgetting my best friend's had a stroke and can't even remember that in the espresso-bar where we used to hang out, Tommy Trinder kept his trilby on while he chatted to the owner. My dogs yank me past bad taste in music from open windows, so I am wondering if I should be grieving a little because a young couple's shiny new car makes mine a year older, or more so, because someone has left an Australian beer can on a soggy mattress on the grass verge next to the paddock where a bored Alsatian barks at me ten times and gives up. Car doors slam behind me as barbecue-goers spill out and whoop very loudly because they think it's necessary for acting happy and the house they visit is bloody good at hiding its history of grief.

Archived comments for Non Sequiturs on a Saturday Afternoon
pdemitchell on 06-02-2016
Non Sequiturs on a Saturday Afternoon
Lovely detailed observational narrative. The third stanza resonated with me strongly. Paul

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Paul. Pleased you liked it.
Gerald

Supratik on 07-02-2016
Non Sequiturs on a Saturday Afternoon
For want of a better word, I find this poem intoxicating. It's quite unusual. Yes it's a wonderful narrative. Goes into my faves. Supratik

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Supratik. Wow! You liked enough to make it a favourite. I'm pleased about that. It's a special one for me.
Gerald.


The Bubble (posted on: 22-01-16)


Of every dream that could haunt me, this one insinuates irresistibly, like a bubble that might waft across our summer garden and, disconcerting chattering cat or frantic dog, skim the children's straining fingertips, swirl past your sleeping face, and beam its supernoval menace on me, on me . This shimmering, hollow dream drifts into a fitful sleep, eclipsing companion considerations, to hold my gaze with its power to chill a smile or cloud an eye; for a brief eternity, it fixes its stippled stare on me, on me . then, as I switch on the lamp to face it down, it is gone!

Archived comments for The Bubble
stormwolf on 22-01-2016
The Bubble
Hi Gerald,
I remember this one from before. I liked it then and I like it now. Well deserving of another airing. I found it skilfully written with the repetition adding urgency and a feeling of menace.
How often we can be confronted by something that emerges during sleep like some warning from deep in the psyche. In this case you have made it into a bubble that avoids the children's fingertips (a joyful innocent gesture) but it picks up more sinister vibes as it merges with the sleep state
to hold my gaze with its power
to chill a smile
or cloud an eye;

Superb.
Alison x

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Alison. I'm enjoying your reaction to this early effort of mine.

Regards,

Herald.

Gothicman on 22-01-2016
The Bubble
Gerald this poem "The Bubble" has always been my favourite one from your skilled pen, and I even nommed it last year to no avail, unfortunately. I know there are newbies who've not read your fine work and glad to have them served up again, but I wish you would try something new and current, even ones showing less than the poetry skills you're clearly gifted with, and even if you have to bludgeon them into shape with revisits, something I erringly do lots of! Does the aging brain good to force personal emotion and meaning into its workings, keeps it alert!
As with every read, this is superb poetry IMHO.
Best, Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Trevor. If I found it easy to knock up a poem just like that, I'd do it, if only to get your appreciation - which I do appreciate - but I only average two poems per year. It's not even a case of writer's block - I just don't have anything lurking wherever poems lurk.

Till the next offering,best wishes,
Gerald

Supratik on 25-01-2016
The Bubble
I echo the beautifully written comments by Alison and Trevor. I am relatively a newcomer, so it was good for me... thank you. I have nothing more to add about this well-written poem, except that I read it many times. Supratik

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Supratik. I'm pleased you liked it.

Gerald


New Year on the Mersey (posted on: 01-01-16)


Mindlessly at midnight, the first ship farts, then a laugh creases up the river and rips around the docks. Now the bobbing boats wiggle on the tide and link their arms in Auld Lang's Syne - the necessary cacophony of revelry to tug the New Year in and dump the old one at sea.

Archived comments for New Year on the Mersey
sweetwater on 02-01-2016
New Year on the Mersey
Brilliant, really enjoyed the clear cut, concise description, and boats really do look like they are wiggling at times. :-)) Sue.

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Sue. I live near the Thames now, and we don't hear this sort of celebration on New Year's Eve anymore. I suspect it's the same on the Mersey.
Best wishes,
Gerald.

Corin on 02-01-2016
New Year on the Mersey
Liked the ending - You might like this too:-

https://www.facebook.com/groups/166379190049211/

We used to listen out for this every New Year whilst lying in bed - I lived near Dagenham Dock on the Thames

Dave

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Dave.
I'll have a look.
Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 09-01-2016
New Year on the Mersey
Brilliant, love the metaphor.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike.

Gerald,

Mikeverdi on 09-01-2016
New Year on the Mersey
Brilliant, love the metaphor.
Mike

Author's Reply:


December Promenade (posted on: 01-01-16)    


It's only a few days since Christmas, but after the joy comes a niggling sort of ache, here by the sea, with this lonely reveller of festive darkness, shedding needles of rain and a glitter of shivers along the promenade; with this foul-mouthed wind staggering off the tide at closing-time, fetching home a surly catch of staleness from the sea. Stale too, all along the front, the wind's accumulation: gusts of greasy smells, clattering gangs of rusty cans and whispering cronies of crumpled wrappers that lour and loll or lobby locked arcades. And staler still, scumming off the stranded year, and all the years beneath, the skins, the smells of other selves, the damaged, discarded selves - like canisters of waste discharging at sea, corrosive stuff, irradiating, blanching the blood of this resort all hunched up and left to play alone in winter rooms in a fug of malaise, with a baffled buzz of wings on the glass, a whiff of death behind the curtains. Look! All the lights are wistful spies, what-the-butlering for a glimpse of meaning in our lives. See, now they peer around the bay, nudge-nudging from window to window for the secrets up her skirts, as holly-spangled Hesper tinsels down the sky, and sidles over here, for warmth, to you and me.

Archived comments for December Promenade
sweetwater on 02-01-2016
December Promenade
It's not so good at the seaside during winter then! Your words of drama painted a strong picture, loved all those perfectly placed images I could virtually smell the abandonment and decay. Also the butlering done by those naughty peeping stars was inspired writing. I would love to see this one in the next anthology. Sue.

Author's Reply:
Yes, I would also love to see this in anthology, so many thanks for the nomination, Sue. I'm pleased you liked it. It's an old poem of mine, going back to how Southend-on-Sea affected me in 1985. It appeared the following year in a poetry magazine called Thursdays, now defunct, I believe.

Best wishes for the new year,
Gerald

Bozzz on 02-01-2016
December Promenade
What no salmon lying ashore, poisoned by the ancient Mersey tide? And is there still a nearby salt mine to cast behind the ear. You must have enjoyed writing this piece as much as I enjoyed reading it. Great stuff. My best for New Year...David

Author's Reply:
More Southend in 1985 than New Brighton, David. (The leaving of Merseyside was in 1970.) Yes, I did enjoy writing this. Sadly, nowadays, I don't seem to come up with the metaphors anymore.
Best wishes for the New Year, Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 09-01-2016
December Promenade
Another gem from your pen Gerald, as to its age, it matters not. Keep them coming.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Mike. Many thanks.

Best wishes for the new year,

Gerald.

gwirionedd on 04-04-2016
December Promenade
I really like the use of language here. In places it is breathtakingly imaginative, for example:

"this foul-mouthed wind staggering
off the tide at closing-time"

and "gangs of rusty cans"...

Also, a very rich array of alliteration. Excellent stuff.


Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it. A favourite of mine. Thanks, Gerald.


Woolworth's Stamps and I (posted on: 18-12-15)
Nothing new. Reposting this from last year

In those days there was snow when the postman trudged up the path on Christmas Day in Birkenhead with parcels in brown paper from aunts I didn't know in Gloucester and I was a Master Somebody they didn't know. The stamp album I dated 1954 soon bulged with stamps on stamp-hinges tastily licked and open-mouth tweezered into the squares, their perforated edges frontiers no stamp must cross, no territory invade. In those days I had to write thank you letters to the aunts I didn't know. Thank you for the stamp album. It is very nice. I am a regular customer in Woolworths. And I now know the capital of every country in the world, and countries that no longer exist, countries that have torn themselves apart or been torn apart. I could have added that. Was the album from you, the smiley Auntie Dorothy I stayed with for a day with the plums and no kids and the Uncle Win who had a squeezy pump for his asthma, who said take a deep breath, that's a healthy country smell? Was it his asthma that made you shock us when you killed yourself? Or perhaps you sent it, the maiden Auntie Kathleen, the youngest who kept the house and who had to do the caring for the drinker I didn't know and won't forget I met him for seconds in a Gloucester street. This is your grandfather, said my dad. You might have had photos by your bedside of your nieces and nephews you would one day leave a thousand pounds to. Or a photo of an airman, a sailor, a soldier, who'd left you longing, who'd not returned, no-one ever said. Postage stamps with bloody histories, from Germany, Poland, Austria, Russia, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Japan. Heads of dictators, kings and queens, emperors, their backsides licked and posted on letters from the dead to the dead, the bombed, the gassed, the tortured, the slave-laboured, the uprooted, the blown to pieces. It's gone, of course, the thousand pounds, but not you, not you, whichever aunt you were, wrapped with love and posted with my DNA bank of millions.

Archived comments for Woolworth's Stamps and I
gwirionedd on 18-12-2015
Woolworths Stamps and I
A very interesting poem, Nemo. I particularly like

"emperors, their backsides licked
and posted on letters from the dead"

which is very clever and funny.

I also like the metaphor of stamps crossing frontiers and invading countries.

Two questions concerning Aunt Dorothy:

1. Do you not think that the phrase "killed yourself" is perhaps a bit too blunt?

2. Why might her husband's asthma have driven her to suicide?

I also have a grammatical point to make. Because of your use of the relative pronoun "who", I think it should be:

"The maiden aunt who might have had photos
by her bedside of her nieces and nephews
she would one day leave a thousand pounds to.
Or a photo of an airman, a sailor, a soldier,
who'd left her longing,
who'd not returned, no-one ever said."

See what I mean? The use of the relative pronoun "who" requires afterwards the third person, not the second person. Otherwise it's confusing and awkward.

Anyway, good stuff, excellent poem.



Author's Reply:
Thank you, gwirionedd. I'm a grammarian by upbringing and profession so it's always galling if someone spots a mistake I've made, but thanks. I'll get over it, eventually. I've made a slight adjustment. Yes, the 'killed herself' is blunt. The 'asthma' reference is from a child's point of view. I remember his use of the pump being very irritating. I had no other inkling as to why she took her own life.

Regards, Nemo


e-griff on 19-12-2015
Woolworths Stamps and I
I'm not sure that 'you' is an error and feel that 'who' would be in the 'Kathleen' verse, which starts by addressing the maiden aunt as 'you' - asking if she sent the album. It seems ok to me to address her as 'you' part-way through, rather than switch to 'who' as the whole verse is a question to her, not a description of her, just as in the previous verse you use 'you' in the last lines when addressing aunt Dorothy.

Anyway. I enjoyed the poem 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thank you, John. I'm pleased you like it. Yes, I'm sure it's correct now - I made a slight change in line 8 of the fifth stanza.
Regards,
Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 20-12-2015
Woolworths Stamps and I
As always, I enjoy immensely these trips we take with you. So much resonates within our own lives. The critique is done, just for me to congratulate you on another fine piece.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Many thanks for your kind words, Mike.

Best wishes, Gerald.

Corin on 20-12-2015
Woolworths Stamps and I
Gerald I enjoyed this poem too. Reminds me of maiden Aunt Phyll who used to save stamps from all over the world for me from her office post. I too pasted them eagerly into my stamp album with sticky hinges.

One point - you sem to be saying that the postman delivered on Christmas Day- are you sure?

Merry Christmas,

Dave

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Dave. I'm pleased you liked it. Yes, deliveries on Christmas day stopped in 1960.
Regards,
Gerald.

Gee on 21-12-2015
Woolworths Stamps and I
I had no idea that the Post Office didn't stop delivering on Christmas Day until 1960.
I like the little details about the the aunts that might have sent the stamps and their lives.
Very enjoyable to read.

Author's Reply:
I'm pleased you liked it, Gee. Thanks for commenting.

Gerald.

gwirionedd on 22-12-2015
Woolworths Stamps and I
Hi Nemo, I still don't get a sense of how your uncle's asthma could have driven his wife to suicide... The poem does not make clear how irritating his squeezy pump was!

Maybe you could describe exactly HOW the pump was so irritating? Then the suicide suggestion would be truly understandable...


Author's Reply:
The poem doesn't say that the use of the asthma pump drove my aunt to suicide. It only asks if it did.

However, to a boy who was only ten at the time, a fifties asthma pump appeared to be a very intrusive contraption, being a long tube with a rubber ball on the end the size of a light bulb.

In my experience we often can only surmise why some people take their own lives.


Precinct Poser (posted on: 11-12-15)


Shopping. They'd be at least an hour. Immaterial what they were buying: essential fripperies, dress material. I started getting tense, all this waiting, and the waste, and the dying - I could try drilling my diamond eyes into the crowd, gilt-edged from new-town jungles to forage in this escalating famine of pavlovian glass and steel hardened shoppers' faces I might crack into seismic smiles, eruptions of compassion. Why bother? Everyone was right, of course, in a dying world, in a Rorke's Drift undertow to the politics of acquisition. Besides, hadn't they left someone at home to deal with the floods of debris and pot-bellied children that poured through the letter-box? The arthritic grandmother, perhaps, that alluvium of drought, limping to the diluvian dustbin?

Archived comments for Precinct Poser
franciman on 11-12-2015
Precinct Poser
A nihilist with a shopping list. Like it!
This is one that bites.
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks,Jim. Pleased you liked it.
Cheers,
Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 11-12-2015
Precinct Poser
Great stuff Gerald as always. Well worth the Nib.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Tha ks, Mike. One from the time of Ethiopean famine.

Gerald.

Bozzz on 12-12-2015
Precinct Poser
Yes Gerald, I am often sitting waiting for Godot (feminine
version) to do the supermarket shopping - the privilege of being the one that holds the disabled badge. I am a portable double-yellow-line parking slot. Great read...David

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, David. Thanks.
Gerald.

Pronto on 13-12-2015
Precinct Poser
I have sat, yeah, many an hour outside womens' changing rooms being glowered at by elderly matrons claiming their moral right to this territory. I felt like screaming "Not my fault tell the bitch to hurry up"
Then I'm asked the deadly question of arse size in this? 'Last time I saw an arse like that it'd just won the Grand National' I think but dare not say!
Rightly or wrongly your grand poem evoked these memories.
Loved it.

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it,Tony. Thanks,Gerald.

sweetwater on 13-12-2015
Precinct Poser
As one who hates shopping, especially in the uninspiring, desert of brick and glass shopping precincts I agree with you on how much of an ordeal it is especially if you are dragged along by other people who for some reason enjoy it. I particularly liked the reference to Kevin Bacon's ' The River Wild'. I enjoyed reading it very much. Sue.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Sue. I'm pleased you liked it. It's highly unlikely, however, that there's any reference to 'River Wild' as I wrote it well before the film was made... and I've never seen the film.
Regards,
Gerald.

sweetwater on 13-12-2015
Precinct Poser
Oops my mistake, sorry. It was the ' Rourks Drift' undertow that confused me. Doesn't affect my enjoyment of the poem though. Sue.

Author's Reply:


What Remains (posted on: 04-12-15)    
One from two years ago. Slightly revised.

Is this all that's left? asks my son, just dropping in. The inlaid wooden chest my father made with love when they were first married served in four houzses before I drove it down South like a coffin to rest here. For years his tools stalled like new in their boxes, until one day I found him planing a piece of wood. I gathered up the curly shavings, held them to my nose in the shed the new people have taken away - but not the smell he said was cherry or the scar on my palm, the red-speckled shavings, when he let me use the chisel. I open the chest in which she stored the linen and towels she ironed with love, the lid creaks, I catch a the faint trace of naphthalene, enough for a flickering memory rush. Is this all that's left? Yes, everything else went into care, except for her two girls on a beach from their last front room, gathering dust in the garage, and his watch, which is broken. Oh, and there's their carriage clock he fiddled with, and got on her nerves, also beyond repair.

Archived comments for What Remains
franciman on 04-12-2015
What Remains
This works both as poetry and short story. Redolent of love and happy times, it says such a lot in such a small piece. The perfect distillation for me.
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
I'm pleased you liked it, Jim. Many thanks for the rate, the nib, the nom and the fav! Made my day!
Cheers,
Gerald.

Pronto on 05-12-2015
What Remains
Very engrossing story/poem told so much with so few words.

Author's Reply:
pleased you liked it, Pronto. Thanks for commenting.
Nemo

Mikeverdi on 12-12-2015
What Remains
Sorry to be late. As alwaysoon, you open my memory box. This time great sadness came out, I remembered going through my father's belongings with a friend, there was nothing to suggest the man or his life. This is a tribute to your skill as a writer Gerald, you really are very good.
Mike

Author's Reply:
I'm late acknowledging your comment, sorry. Thanks, Mike.

I'm much worse than you. I rarely have time to read other people's work, never mind comment.

Gerald.


Reading 'Ballade des Pendus' (posted on: 27-11-15)    


Franois Villon is like the must-see gargoyle too far round the other side of Notre Dame, or the stained-glass chef d'uvre that you miss forever in your hurry back to the sight-seeing coach, so you can't give either a second thought. Yes, but he made a desperate appeal to us all to intercede for him. 'Frres humains', he called us, as he contemplated being hanged, his body swinging from the gibbet, five fellow villains for company, rain-soaked, sun-scorched, rotting, pecked by crows. Well, he was a thief and a murderer, and you went to hell in those days if you were a sinner like him. But you could get him forgiven if you prayed for him, and he'd be all right. Absolved. Perhaps. Okay, so it was over five hundred years ago. And, okay again, so it's not clear in his poem how many people had to pray for him to secure his escape from the fires of hell. Nor, of course, you add, did he allow - well he couldn't, it would have been stake-burningly heretical - for his appeal lasting century after century into the enlightened age of sceptics, atheists, existentialists, nihilists and their ilk, not forgetting you sightseers on a mission, who wouldn't give his poem a second pense if it was flashed up in the coach. Why should you bother reading his poem? Besides, it's in bleedin' French, init? you might say. (Franois Villon 1431 - 1463?)

Archived comments for Reading 'Ballade des Pendus'
Texasgreg on 27-11-2015
Reading Ballade des Pendus
Had to read it in English, of course...

I believe true repentance is acknowledgement of our weaknesses. Though very difficult at times, it must include those of others as well if we're to last and grow as a civilization...

Good poem for thought,

Greg 🙂


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Author's Reply:
Thanks, Greg. I'm pleased I got you reading his poem.
Cheers,
Gerald

franciman on 27-11-2015
Reading Ballade des Pendus
Hi Gerald,
I read this, then Villon, then back to this excellent piece. Leaving aside the morality, it is great to find that great poetry does not always, if ever, stem from virtuous pens. Thank you. Made me think!
cheers,
Jim

Oh, and it is great poetry (yours, I mean)

Author's Reply:
I'm pleased you liked it, Jim, and thanks for the rate.

Cheers, Gerald.

And thanks to whoever nominated it.

Mikeverdi on 27-11-2015
Reading Ballade des Pendus
As always, much enjoyed the read Gerald. You are indeed the thinking man's poet😊
K8ke

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. I've been fascinated by this poem of Villon's for many years. I'm pleased it got you thinking.
Regards, Gerald.

And thanks to whoever nominated it!

gwirionedd on 28-11-2015
Reading Ballade des Pendus
I remember the name of Francois Villon from somewhere, but can't remember where exactly. I'm sure I've read something from him, in translation, years ago.

Anyway, this is an excellent poem. I look forward to reading more of your stuff, and will look into your back catalogue...

All the best,
Archie



Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Archie. I'm pleased you liked it.

Regards,

Gerald.


The Queue (posted on: 20-11-15)    


She'd been on the Queen Mary, she told the check-out girl. She'd given up smoking, they could see she still pursed her lips, snake hand poised, for the camera. And she'd been a welder in the war, she showed the burn on her arm. He was away, months on end, the Arctic convoys, you know. The tail poised to shuffle forward, done with nodding and smiling, or simply looking away, till she paid and left her mark.

Archived comments for The Queue
franciman on 20-11-2015
The Queue
This catches the attention. Like all good poetry you have to turn it in your hands to discover true nature. I was left wanting more, always a good sign.
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Jim. I'm pleased you liked it.
Cheers,
Gerald

Nemo on 20-11-2015
The Queue
Thank you to whoever nominated this!
Cheers,
Nemo.

Author's Reply:

Ionicus on 21-11-2015
The Queue
An excellent read, Gerald. Liked it a lot. Whoever nominated it has good tastes.

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Luigi. I'm pleased you liked it.
Regards,
Gerald.


Would you just be looking at those flowers? (posted on: 13-11-15)    
Sharing this again. Slightly revised.

Wheeled along by a nurse, the limp girl in the garden must be in her twenties, with someone's clothes, someone's hair-style; her heels, institution-red; her feet, at unnatural angles, half-dibbled into slippers sliding off the foot-rest. I sense she does not have much longer to live, parked, as she now is, at a bed of sprightly daffodils; defenceless, as she now is, against such a caring act of cruelty.

Archived comments for Would you just be looking at those flowers?
stormwolf on 13-11-2015
Would you just be looking at those flowers?
Fabulous Gerald

I remember this one from before I think it was my fav of your works.

I don't know what you have changed but it's perfect in its sensitivity and insight not to mention the skill of the poetry itself

Well worth a nomination

Alison X

Author's Reply:
Thanks again, Alison, esp for the nom and, yes,you did fav it last time. A little tweeking of the stanzas and a change of title to involve the nurse a little more.
Gerald.

gwirionedd on 13-11-2015
Would you just be looking at those flowers?
A very interesting poem, especially the ending. Why might it be cruel to park her next to some daffodils?... I suppose because they are sprightly, Spring flowers in full bloom... Says a lot through what it doesn't say. Subtle and well-written.



Author's Reply:
Thanks, gwirionedd. I think, if I were dying and parked in front of those daffodils, I would weep inconsolably.

shadow on 13-11-2015
Would you just be looking at those flowers?
Beautiful poem, very moving, in the contrast between the girl and the flowers.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, shadow.

ValDohren on 14-11-2015
Would you just be looking at those flowers?
Very moving, a lot said here. My one crit is that I think I would have avoided repeating the phrase 'as she now is.' Great stuff.
Val x

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Val. I'm pleased you liked it. The repetition of 'as she now is' is no oversight but is there to make the reader think about why I have repeated it.
Regards,
Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 14-11-2015
Would you just be looking at those flowers?
Once again your poetry brings your thoughts alive on the page Gerald. Thanks for sharing this with us.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. I'm pleased it's still being liked.
Gerald

Gothicman on 15-11-2015
Would you just be looking at those flowers?
Yes, brilliant depiction, Gerald. At a level where everything is done for her, with no apparent advocacy at all on her part, the last stanza with just a hint perhaps of awareness, of self-limitation, or is it still only the observers evaluation, assuming too little or too much, difficult to know the level of impression intake. If Alison hadn't nominated it, I would have. Brilliant.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Trevor. Always room for conjecture: how aware was the girl? You've got me thinking about my own poem and I'm back in the gardens outside the National Neurological Hospital where I saw this girl in 1985.
Gerald


Launching HMS Ark Royal, 1950 (posted on: 06-11-15)


Victorious Britain still looking defeated five years on rationing and malaise haircurlers and debt bombsites and Brylcreme Union Jacks out of nowhere children out of school lined up in the rain primed and raring to wave all along Borough Road past Tranmere Rovers up Prenton Road West and down to the docks Rain stopped on command queen in hurry, late for lunch open top Rolls flashed by missed her, didn't see her waved flags anyway Ship slipped into Mersey lots of broken glass sailed round the world between repairs and refits called in here and there made chests puff out defending the realm no action, no scare didn't make Britain great again scrapped like the others could've had a new railway like the defeated Still, got her majesty's loo seat in Cammel Laird's museum fur-coated and heated and next to the plaque a Birkenhead News cutting with me, caught waving my flag

Archived comments for Launching HMS Ark Royal, 1950
Mikeverdi on 06-11-2015
Launching HMS Ark Royal, 1950
Pathos and poetry, memories and sadness. Stark and heart felt words, a world long gone. I stood on the deck of this great ship, and others like it. All gone now, Plymouth Navy Days, not much to see now on the 'Dockyard and Warship' trip up the Tamar. Another gem of a poem Gerald.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. Quite a problem ship, more than half of its time in service spent dealing with many breakdowns and expensive refits to cope with advances in aircraft.
Regards, Gerald

franciman on 06-11-2015
Launching HMS Ark Royal, 1950
Hi Gerald,
I served alongside Ark Royal on numerous occasions. She was a bit like royalty; superannuated yet strangely reassuring. This is great work mate. A joy to read and read again.
cheers,
Jolly Jack..

Author's Reply:
Thanks,Jim. Pleased you liked it. An interesting life you've had!
Regards,
Gerald

gwirionedd on 06-11-2015
Launching HMS Ark Royal, 1950
I like the style here. Excellent short, sharp lines. Very distinctive.



Author's Reply:
Thanks,gwirionedd.

Bozzz on 07-11-2015
Launching HMS Ark Royal, 1950
Fur-coated loo seat cover - unhygienic royal arseholes ! I was still in my demob suit - remember it well. Thank you Gerald....Bozzz

Author's Reply:
Thanks, David. 1950 and still in your demob suit?
Gerald


Loire Valley Chteau, France (posted on: 30-10-15)
Tourists keep these places going but they can spoil the atmosphere

Chenonceau: selfies by the coach-load at this chteau on the Cher. Chef d'uvre of hydroponic art, like a house-plant extraordinaire with its feet in running water, it will arch over tea-or-coffee talk, its bloom of transportable culture dropping aesthetic seeds of colloquy, from the salons of the States to the boudoirs of Belarus. If I donned my doublet and hose, I could bow and scrape five hundred years away, make renaissance with the festive dead, bal-masqu for a whoring king, (la fte is only a layer of dust away) were it not for the tourists in between. At least, outside, my hawk can soar and blur them out, or swoop to the hand of Diane de Poitiers in her prime, dangling her legs, on the car-park wall.

Archived comments for Loire Valley Chteau, France
Gothicman on 31-10-2015
Loire Valley Château, France
The original was good, Gerald, but this revved version much better, great writing, slightly more refined word-choice, love the finish, very classy!
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Trevor. I'm pleased with the end result here, after some hard pruning. Seems quiet on here at the moment.
Regards,
Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 01-11-2015
Loire Valley Château, France
Wonderful, well worth the Nib Gerald. The description of the place and time beautifully illustrated by your eloquent choice of words. Thanks for continuing to post, it is a bit quiet.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. Yes, a repost but I've tightened it quite a lot. Hope you are well.
Regards,
Gerald.


Bombsite (posted on: 26-10-15)    


i. 1954 Either mistaken half a mile off target from the blacked-out Mersey docks, or off-loaded onto with full apologies on the way back to the Fatherland, it was a hovering void still faintly overhung with the miasma of loss - but still a house, despite its toppled gate-posts, draughty entrance-hall, open-plan rooms either side, scatterings of deco tiles from where the kitchen was. To think living took place there once, all traces being long since levelled off, where boys in worsted shorts crouched, and killed sixpenny baddies, while neighbours in rooms remembered less and less as rationing came to an end at last. ii. 2014 Still a withered hand sticking up, curtain ring on wedding finger, tatter of speckled hem of girl's dress snagged on stump of water pipe, charred scraps of a Liverpool Echo datedept mb r14 . Next door the exhausted hotel stares, tired of surviving the bomb, its willow drooping over the wall like a dribbling fountain weeping gobbets of grief into stagnant pools, where swarms of sassy frogs do skinny-dips, all pretending to be the same, and going glug glug in rainbow slicks, hearts all throbbing and throbbing like motorbikes on heat. Small boys could take them home, have little epiphanies with rampant cats, but not Earnshaw, Riley or Reid, all gone, all bloody well gone, the only one left is me, mucking around with this.

Archived comments for Bombsite
Supratik on 26-10-2015
Bombsite
"hearts all throbbing and throbbing
like motorbikes on heat."

I loved this poem. Excellent.
Best.
Supratik

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Supratik. Two for one here - which did you love?
Did you nominate it? If so, thanks!

Regards, G

Supratik on 26-10-2015
Bombsite
Sorry but I loved both. Supratik

Author's Reply:
Super Supratik!

Gothicman on 26-10-2015
Bombsite
Your excellent second added stanza brought the first recycled to full fruition, Gerald, gave it all an extra feeling of the ravages of time and its effects, your usual poetical brilliance again, you're back in business! I admire so much that your poetry is free from precious or stilted text, just real life observations using colourful phrasings and wonderful descriptions.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Trevor. First one from 20 years ago. A bit of a p-take, the second one. Apologies to anyone offended. Another six months before the next comes along,
Gerald.

Pronto on 26-10-2015
Bombsite
Loved it but 1954? should that not be 1945? or am I confused?
I've only got a small brain tha' knows! 🙂


Author's Reply:
Thanks, Pronto. 1954. Bombsites were still around and we played on them. Rationing was still hitting hard till 1954.
Gerald

Pronto on 26-10-2015
Bombsite
Of course we did, I played on bombsites myself. Sorry to misunderstand you mate. I remember rationing, too. 2 Oz of sweets per week went up to 4 oz which s probably why I still have my own teeth.

Author's Reply:
Do you remember what rationing books smelt like?


The Foreigner in the Lift (posted on: 19-10-15)


Fierce pain sharked through his arm. Pietro Bornorquod rent air and ears, skeltered fatly through narrowing lift-doors, with desperado gusto of weary traveller. Struck in drop by clanging door, suitcase thudded to resquiescat; strain removed from bargain locks, discharged unwashed contents. Some bovine-standers stiffened British upper lips; others, less patriotic, betrayed national wrapping: blinked round, still chewing cud, sniggered, raised eyes almighty-wards. Lift started ascent in 1968. Bovine standers stared at happening: fat squeak, thud and spill evolving amorphously into huge anal bend thrust malodorously into faces; into phonemes of foreign distress; into tumble of bent man's personal effects from jacket pocket: wallet, passport, papers, dirty postcards and so on, observed by yourself on such occasions. Lift, doors closed in 1968, still making its ascent.

Archived comments for The Foreigner in the Lift
gwirionedd on 21-10-2015
The Foreigner in the Lift
Very inventive linguistic experimentation. That impressed me.

Author's Reply:
Thanks. Written as a short story in 1968, compressed into poem form in 2015.

Regards, Nemo


Allotment Man (posted on: 16-10-15)


Old Pete? Now he could grow a thing or two, and he did, year after year, even when he got the wilt on him. Gave me tomato plants in spring, for finding his watch amongst my weeds. "Looking for dandelions for my grandson's rabbits. My missus would kill me if she knew I'd lost it." He left going till late summer and there'd be something to pick. I'm here early, just after the autumn mist, pulling up the tomatoes, brown and blighted. I look across to where he raked and hoed, a tommy on a treeless salient. His widow stoops and picks, making things last, dinners for one till winter.

Archived comments for Allotment Man
Supratik on 16-10-2015
Put to one side for burning
It's too content-specific for an Asian to understand. I found the title very inviting, but frankly, I would love to know more about what's happening here. Respects. Supratik

Author's Reply:
Thanks for your comment. I'll PM you.

Mikeverdi on 16-10-2015
Put to one side for burning
So much in so few words, wonderful Gerald. Like all your writing, it touched a nerve.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. A bit pithy, first poem since January.
Regards, Gerald.

stormwolf on 16-10-2015
Put to one side for burning
Hi Gerald,
I had to read it a couple of times. I sometimes go by first impressions and find I have read wrongly. Anyway,a poignant poem that leaves the reader with a certain feeling and introspection.
The last four lines really incredibly sad and touching.
Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Alison. A bare essentials approach, no frills in this.
Regards,
Gerald.

Gothicman on 18-10-2015
Put to one side for burning
Yes, you've still got your wonderful off-centre approach in your poetical armoury, Gerald, which has shone through all your earlier work. But, I'm not sure whether this comes over as more than just a descriptive day at the allotment. My take is that your old allotment friend had planted tomatoes for your as thanks for finding his watch in your weeds, then he died, and being a bad year for tomatoes everywhere (me too) they got blight and wilted, while now in Autumn his widow is scratching among his now neglected patch for bits of food before cold, lifeless winter? The poignancy didn't really come over for me, too bare of essentials, needed an extra couplet coupled to the watch again, I feel. Always good to read your work though. Glad you're having a go at something new, instead of recycling.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Trevor. Just a filler, not a story line I can carried away by. I like your version best.

Perhaps if I leave this fallow for a while, something will occur to me.

Regards, Gerald.

Have you seen any of Alexander Armstrong's programmes on his trip to the Arctic? BBC

Gothicman on 18-10-2015
Put to one side for burning
I'm just watching the programme now, on ITV, via a proxy server of course. Commuting between Narvik and Kiruna, overnighting at the Ice Hotel, where I stayed last Winter, now Alexander's facing the worst artic storm recorded near the Russian border! I'll continue watching, thanks for the tip!

Author's Reply:
Hi Trevor,
Just to say I've done a bit more work on this poem.
G

Gothicman on 22-10-2015
Allotment Man
Hi Gerald, well this version certainly gives the story more easily followed content and progress, perhaps "this" winter rather than "till" winter? It is a poignant slice-of-life story, but I can't help feeling it lacks your old "switchback" coupling, or "twist in the tail" which you were so good at, doesn't leave any after impression. It may be because for me I've already absorbed the story. What about "His widow stoops to dig up carrots I've hid there, dinner for one this winter"? No, probably good as it is, as a simple poignant story. You can these things far better than me!
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks Trevor. The widow's supplies will keep her going through the autumn but run out in winter, apart from a few worm eaten spuds. Also she might not outlive the winter.
Anyway, thanks for your thoughts.
G


Earnshaw (posted on: 02-10-15)


Would he come in and see my Meccano crane? He could help me build something else, but he always wanted to play out instead. Called himself Billy Liddell, can't recall who I was, a third division goalie, I think, chump chasing balls belted down the alley. Suddenly the match would be over: time for a bout of boxing, alley walls for ropes, beating me up till they called us in for tea. Next day at the door, was I coming out to play, or watch his dad's TV, the first in our road, and his sister growing tits and going out. Dropped me like a manager for moving house, from best friend to half-hearted nods at school; five years with his new team and then he left. Heart attack, my mother said one day over tea. Dribbling between goals, a woman in each, drilling one past remorse, only fucking thirty-two.

Archived comments for Earnshaw
MrMarmite on 02-10-2015
Earnshaw
Hi. I loved this trip down memory lane as I well remember Meccano and playing football and boxing my mates in the entry by our house.As for Billy Liddell my late father would mention his name alongside Matthews,Lofthouse,Finney,and Duncan Edwards,telling me how great they were.Liddell was a Liverpool hero and when he died in 2001 the red half of Merseyside turned out in there thousands for his funeral on a scale it was said not seen since the passing of Bill Shankley another Liverpool legend.
Great poem by the way !

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting on this, MrMarmite. I'm pleased you liked it. It's a shortened version of one I posted last year. I feel as though it still needs more work but I'll let it simmer for a month or two, or maybe longer.
Regards, Nemo.

shadow on 03-10-2015
Earnshaw
This looks fine to me as it is - sometimes you can spoil something by spending to much time fiddling around with it.
Particularly liked the last two verses.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, shadow. I changed line 6 earlier today. This is probably the final version.
Regards,
Nemo.

e-griff on 06-10-2015
Earnshaw
nice description of friendship and going in different directions, it's happened to me, but later in life than this.

BTW should 'women'be woman - a woman in each , guess you may have changed it from 'women in each'

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and spotting the typo, John.

Regards, Gerald


The Game of Solitaire (posted on: 18-09-15)


When is an uncle not an uncle? Answer: when he's your auntie's husband and she's your dad's sister so I must have some of her in me, not that I could tell in nineteen fifty-three, especially with her sort of bacon I had to come downstairs to with my stomach turning over, after I'd just been watching the boatmen skulling across the water in the cistern just below the window of the daughter-gone-to-be-a-nurse's floral bedroom where they'd put me for a week. Packed off from a Woodside platform for a compulsory solo holiday in Gloucester aged ten on a steam train which has been disappeared and which had awkward long leather straps for struggling to opening windows with and struggling to close them if you didn't want smuts in your eyes; second visit to a branch of the ancestral family, and the last, I was in another country of strangers who were children fifty years before me some time between Mafeking and Sarajevo. What's to remember? Being shown to a shed to get a lungful of hot onion gas, a child was bound to like a well nurtured onion, and the cabbages making a farty smell at the bottom of their garden, as tall as me at dawn and rolling silver beads down my bare legs, the watering can which helped me escape to pass the time befriending them, the Ford Prefect precision parked with post-war pride after taking me to Bourton-on-the-Water, a child was bound to like a picturesque model village, or Peter Scott's Slimbridge, a child was bound to like pretty ducks, no doubt Uncle Harold did, he carried binoculars round his neck, like an untested meaning of life. He was big in carpets at the Bon Marche, having worked his way up. He rolled out an Axminster, this is an Axminster, he said, a child was bound to like a well made carpet. There must have been a speech or two at his well-earned retirement, Gloucester colleagues standing round, remarking upon his achievement in mats and rugs, grinning for as long as it took. Auntie Elsie would have written to my mum, saying how much she enjoyed having me. What a good eater I'd been and so quiet, put in the front room each evening with the solitaire, not a sound, a child was bound to like a nice game of solitaire. Were they tested or untested when the photographs came from the other side of the world which was bigger then and grandchildren were sequestered behind smiles and wrote compulsory thank you letters to strangers, treasured in a Bon Marche letter-rack like a consolation contre la mort? They didn't say. Pride keeping it shut, perhaps. Uncle Harold and Auntie Elsie have gone to graves in Gloucester, though I doubt if they know it or what became of me or what will become of me and a couple of cousins and scatterings of grandchildren with bits of her and him and me in them, and our fading fragments of memory of their existence, and their graves no-one visits, where people dawdle by, and a fox deposits a sloppy mess.

Archived comments for The Game of Solitaire
Kipper on 18-09-2015
The Game of Solitaire..
I find other peoples memories quite compelling even though they usually tell of people and places and things I do not know. But it is surprising how their stories somehow blend with mine, and how their memories ignite my own. Time leaves so much behind and your piece reminded me of my Aunts and Uncles
I very much enjoyed this trip down your memory lane for it almost became mine too.
Michael

Author's Reply:
Many thanks for stopping by and commenting, Michael.
Regards, Gerald

Gee on 18-09-2015
The Game of Solitaire..
I like the repeated "a child was bound to..." parts in this, clearly showing that these people had no idea how to entertain a child. It brings to mind the old saying that children should be seen and not heard.
There is, for me, a feeling of not properly belonging here too.
As all good writing should, it definitely makes you think about it.

Author's Reply:
Many thanks for stopping by and commenting, Gee.
Regards, Nemo

sweetwater on 19-09-2015
The Game of Solitaire
I felt the same as Michael, this fascinated me, I love old memories, old photos and old houses, so much can be learnt from them, I was reminded of staying with my parents in my aunt and uncle's home to look after the chickens and gardens while they went on holiday, I loved every minute, the old fashioned Victorian feel to the house,so different to ours, huge garden ( ex market garden) sheds of chicken feed, and a large orchard beyond the big chicken run, and fields around us. Like you wrote There was only basic entertainment, cards etc., but fantastic experience for me.
Absolutly entertaining write, a story, a memory, and atmosphere, what more can one ask of a poem. Smashing! Sue x


Author's Reply:
Many thanks for stopping by and commenting, Sue.
Regards, Gerald

Mikeverdi on 19-09-2015
The Game of Solitaire
You create a picture of the time effortlessly in my mind. You had me with the train, the leather straps... I was back there.
Thanks for posting again Gerald.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Mike. Thanks for commenting.
Regards, Gerald.


The Colour of the Buses (posted on: 28-08-15)


Birkenhead buses were blue, blue Guy Arabs for school, bus stop in front of a bombed house on Borough Road, the gap filled by Camp Coffee and Senior Service. The 86 was the best in the morning, taking longer, time to get full marks in the French test, for Dave to check his homework against mine, never noticing I was leaning away from his feet. Mel usually missed it, his mum with five to get ready, another on the way with the lodger. Bus late, had to leg it up Milton Road, where Wilfred Owen used to live, caught the 51 on Derby Road. The 51, always in a hurry after school, specially lurching on the bend at the workhouse turned hospital, pressing Port Sunlight shift-workers against us, like bellows, puffing out Woodbines and Surf. Wallasey buses were yellow, yellow Leylands for the seaside, the 11 always smelling new taking us to New Brighton, the oil-stained sand, the washed up German mine. Once, with Auntie Bessie and Uncle Frank, the only time they made the trek to see us, we stretched our legs along the prom as far as Seacombe pier, my dad and Uncle Frank in waist-coats and suits, tacking trilbies into the wind. The ferry docking at Woodside, squeezing tractor tyres against the pier, the gangway clattering above the oily Mersey, the steep climb up the landing-stage at low-tide, being hauled away from model liners in the ticket-hall, Uncle Frank and Auntie Bessie waiting outside the railway station for the single-decker back to Chester, steam trains hissing, weary sighs I didn't know were premonitions of the axe. Chester buses were green, green Crosvilles for family stuff, Auntie Bessie, limping from meningitis, one leg shorter than the other, screams in my mum's ears going back to 1910, gave me port to try and put Jim Reeves on in the parlour. A child was playing with friends, she said, and drowned in the canal. They used to whip the horses up Watergate, said my mum, they sometimes fell down outside her doctor's. A grandfather smelling of birdseed sat all day in a rocking-chair by the bird, neither of them spoke. Uncle Frank carving bits of wood in a shed next to the outside toilet, its neatly ripped squares of newspaper on a loop of string, once he took me down to the Kop at the end of his road to see the River Dee. He had lung cancer and showed my dad where it was. The dreary drone of the journey back home at night, the fifties in the semi-darkness of the New Chester Road, a child peering through a misted window, to whom life seemed fixed the way it was.

Archived comments for The Colour of the Buses
Mikeverdi on 28-08-2015
The Colour of the Buses
You are a master of this reflective story telling. Thanks for posting this one. I don't remember reading it before, I must have missed it. Maybe I'm getting a little daft. I may have told you my mother is from Liverpool, I can remember many of the places you mention. Just wonderful reading Gerald.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks for your comment, Mike, and for the rate. You have read it before and commented that you didn't give a damn if others thought it was chopped up prose. Nor did I, as it was important to squeeze the memories out and sod the format.

Gerald

e-griff on 28-08-2015
The Colour of the Buses
My memory is a bit different, which puzzles me. Crosville were dark green, and went longer distance to North Wales etc from the Birkenhead ferry terminal. Wallasey buses were light blue. Liverpool's were lighter green (apart from two silver ones on the 60 and 81 route) Ribble were red and went north.
I really don't remember yellow buses,. I'll have to check. We were always at new Brighton, hoylake, Bidston hill or arrow Park on our weekend outings.
You couldn't get vimto in Liverpool, but you could get it at the cafe in Birkenhead ferry terminal.
This was the late fifties,.

Author's Reply:
I agree that the Crosville buses were dark green. The Wallasey buses we used to catch on Woodchurch Road were definitely yellow. They were very distinctive from the Birkenhead buses because of their unforgettable new smell. The number 96 I used to catch in the morning on Borough road to go to school from 1955 to 1962 was definitely blue, as was the number 51 coming from Port Sunlight full of workers from Lever Bros smelling of margarine and soap powder which I used to catch to come home, getting off one stop after St Catherine's Hospital, not far from the Birkenhead Institute which Wilfred Owen used to attend.

Correction: it was the 86 not the 96.

e-griff on 29-08-2015
The Colour of the Buses
I looked for pictures Googling 'Birkenhead bus colour' and this may be the answer. The bus was mostly light blue, but had a broad pale yellow band at lower window level.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for researching that. St Catherine's hospital, in which I was born, had previously been a workhouse. I remember there used to be a sea mine on New Brighton beach.

Weefatfella on 29-08-2015
The Colour of the Buses
 photo c673dadc-2d28-4407-9a21-a191bcf6d656_zpsp2y54f3y.jpg

Loved this. your use of mnemonics brings back my memories of the red Lanarkshire buses.
Yes, it's true. We believe our lives will continue along the same lines forever. Sadly an illusion. I really enjoyed this Gerald. Thank you very much for a pleasant cup of coffee companion. I hope you drop by again.
Weefatfella.

Author's Reply:
I'm pleased you liked, Weefatfella. Yes, I'll drop by again. I'm gradually re-posting my poems as I don't seem to have any new ones coming along at present. There'll be about half a dozen 'mnenomic' ones amongst them.
Nemo.

deadpoet on 30-08-2015
The Colour of the Buses
Just like a painting Nemo- I am slightly familiar with English Double-deckers- we had them in Sydney and single deckers too. Our busses were green and yellow in the 50-60's . Now I believe they are blue and very classy. We even had trams and the tram yard was where the Opera House is today!! 🙂 We are old fogies , eh? Imagine it is 50 years ago we were kids! I love the last line in this prosetry- we thought the world went on as it was- Great time being a child- well better now of course. 🙂
It's lovely to read others memories.. Keep posting your older stuff- I will enjoy I am sure..
Pia

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Pia. I'm pleased my wee effort did something for you. By the way, which do you prefer, Australia or Denmark? Sorry if that's a silly question.
Cheers, Gerald.


deadpoet on 30-08-2015
The Colour of the Buses
Thanks for asking Gerald. Not a silly question. I love both countries but at home here in Denmark after having lived here now for many more years than I was in Aussie. And my children and grandchilden are born and raised and live here in Denmark. I won't leave. But could do with the Aussie sunshine. You can't have it all.Two very different cultures- can't compare.

🙂 Pia

Author's Reply:


Healthy Competition (posted on: 21-08-15)


Cross-country saved the pitches in winter, fair enough, but made us intellectuals - us express tail-enders - miss the first bus after school. Three minutes from his homework, beanpole Perkins always raced home early, excused by his heart, got his books out, and wasted no time. We kept warm at the bus-stop, killing time, moving pawns. The double-decker from Levers lurched through the smog; we concentrated on our chess, convinced he'd got us licked, in tomorrow's test.

Archived comments for Healthy Competition
Weefatfella on 21-08-2015
Healthy Competition
 photo c673dadc-2d28-4407-9a21-a191bcf6d656_zpsp2y54f3y.jpg

That's a great name 'Beanpole Perkins.'
The image is perfect.

There's a full history squished into this short but very evocative piece.
Thanks for putting it out there Nemo.
Weefatfella.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Pleased you liked it, Weefatfella.
Nemo.

bethybob on 26-08-2015
Healthy Competition
This honestly reminds me of my old boarding school. Skipping cross country and hiding in the library. I love the "lurched through the smog", you can really see it.
Beth

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, bethybob. The friend in this poem is my best friend from over 50 years ago. Sadly he has had a serious stroke and we are no longer able to communicate.

Nemo


On the Underground (posted on: 07-08-15)


Our train is delayed, passenger taken ill at Liverpool Street; we have to stand behind the yellow line, continues the announcement, omitting the details we can imagine if we wish but our faces don't let on; blank looks of indifference, or calm commuters' courage; it's the way we cope as we wait, fixed on our patchwork of thoughts; and when the train comes hurtling in, we stay behind the yellow line, maybe scan each carriage for signs of distress, stand back as the doors open to let people out, then step on board to sit or stand and carry on with our lives with a show of stoical humanity - or a case of not admitting to that unbearable feeling of being cruelly circumscribed.

Archived comments for On the Underground
Supratik on 07-08-2015
On the Underground
It's a nice read!

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
Nemo.

chant_z on 07-08-2015
On the Underground
Interesting read. Here there is in average 1 suicidal person per train driver, but usually it says something else in the speakers on board.

Author's Reply:
At the time I didn't know whether 'Passenger taken ill' meant someone had jumped in front of the train or if they'd literally been taken ill on board. 'Hit by a train' is the most graphic I've heard. Thanks for your comment.
Nemo

Mikeverdi on 09-08-2015
On the Underground
It's what we do..the English. I remember on a plane years ago, a drunk going berserk before take off. The crew battled him down the steps and back onto the runway, none of us batted an eyelid, carried on Keeping Calm. Wouldn't happen today of course.
Interesting piece Gerald.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike.
Regards,
Gerald

deadpoet on 09-08-2015
On the Underground
Here We call a spade for a spade ! It makes me miserable hearing these announcements. A good friend of mine did just this! Never to be forgotten!
I'm glad I read this. You captured the atmosphere well I think. Funny differently people tract. . Great poem.
Pia

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Pia. I actually meant that I think a passenger had been taken ill on board the train. The delay wasn't long enough for someone to have to be removed from the line. Still, I'm happy for people to assume another interpretation.
Thanks for commenting,
Gerald.


On Arriving at Finis Terrae (posted on: 20-07-15)


Here I am at last, at the end of my life, posting my farewells and seeking peace of mind as I queue for the vessel along the beach; but I can't help leaving footprints in the sand, though they have the power to hurt me, like words, even as they irrevocably fade; nor can I ignore the waves running up to me, like children, thrilling with their ancient stories, faltering with their first few words, forgetting how they went, and running back, trying to remember all that has happened and all who have stood on this wind-swept shore, looking out from the end of the known world to where the vast ocean joins the immeasurable sky in the dank unremitting colour of nothingness.

Archived comments for On Arriving at Finis Terrae
gwirionedd on 20-07-2015
Finis Terrae
Hmmm, interesting...

Are you talking about refugees?

At first I thought maybe you were referring to people leaving Africa, but then the "end of the known world" and the poem's title made me think of Finisterre in France.

Could possibly then be immigrants to the US or Canada?...




Author's Reply:
The poem is about Finis Terrae. The Ancient Romans named it thus because it was marked the end of the world as they knew it. When we are close to death we have reached the end of the world as we know it. As we stare into the future we are like those who stood on the edge of Europe and we find the prospect of the unknown before us as rather bleak. I'd like to think the clue 'at the end of our lives' tells the reader what the poem is about. Thanks for your comment, Nemo.

deadpoet on 20-07-2015
Finis Terrae
I was thinking refugees too. But it could be a journey like the one Columbus took- leaving the known world! It's a very good poem. I enjoyed reading it and thinking about it.

Pia xx

Author's Reply:
When we reach 'the end of our lives' we are at Finis Terrae - the end of the world as we know it. The Unknown lies beyond it, just as it did for the Ancient Romans. Looking back makes us sad and we do not relish the prospect of our imminent annihilation.

Thanks, Pia.

Cheers, Gerald

Mikeverdi on 21-07-2015
Finis Terrae
I can see the confusion of the other comments Gerald, for me the metaphor didn't quite work; I think it's the 'they' at the start. On reading after your explanation, it does of course.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. The first three lines were added some years after the original version. I'm trying a different opening.

Regards,

Gerald.

sweetwater on 21-07-2015
Finis Terrae
Reading your first few lines, I though of death, and the queuing for the vessel made me think of ' paying the ferryman to cross the water'. But then I wasn't quite so sure. A very thought provoking poem. Sue.

Author's Reply:
Yes, Sue, you're right. No point in shirking it.
Gerald

Bozzz on 22-07-2015
Finis Terrae
Reminds me of Embarcation pour Citerre. It is always too late to remember the things we will need to recall when we set sail for the last trip. I am reminded every time I have to pack to go into hospital ! Clever and sypathique poem Gerald....Yours aye, David

Author's Reply:
What ho! Good to see you posting again, David. And keeping your spirits up, despite my gloomy poem. Thanks for commenting.

Best wishes, Gerald.


Vacant Possession (posted on: 10-07-15)
Empty houses for sale are often described by estate agents as 'Vacant Possession' - here the meaning is different

Slam! They leave the wall-to-wall niceness in charge. Goodbye to the essential pictures in the hall, with its past of other pairings and partings painted out in exorcising shades. Goodbye to the polished smiles of approving guests prolonging best wishes in fashionable frames, and just-unwrapped smells in the press-button room, waiting for the evening like the slippers, fluffy as requested from Auntie Pru, and another standing-idle day begins. A second slam! beats the evening draught down the hall. The double-glazed silence slinks off to sulk with the old days in the corner; rodent reveries scurry away to claw at filled-in escape holes. Re-embracing life together, the young couple strip off the world-of-work that gets in the way.

Archived comments for Vacant Possession
amman on 10-07-2015
Vacant Possession
Hi Gerald.
Out with the old, in with the new. I can empathise with this having recently relocated. Not sure about the stand alone line at the start but the rest of the poem contains so much clever wordplay/imagery to fill this commentator with admiration; imo one of the best posts of recent times. The language is so reminiscent of Dylan Thomas' Under Milkwood. Straight into favs.
Regards.
Tony.


Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Tony. I'm pleased you liked it and thanks too for making it a favourite. My intention with the Slam! was to try to establish in the reader's mind that the couple are 'vacant'; that they mindlessly slam their front door without a care for us, the neighbours. My misanthropy - I hate door-slammers. I deplore too what they do to the house and its legacy - and what appears, perhaps only to my way of thinking, to be their self-centred disregard for the lives of its previous owners.

Many thanks again,

Gerald

Gothicman on 12-07-2015
Vacant Possession
Another polished poem from your skilful pen, Gerald. Always appreciated the way you approach the production using finely-worded descriptions that so aptly apply to the situation, and unusual structuring and layout as well. The proper home should really be the place where you strip-off the world-of-work! Great writing as per usual!
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Trevor. I'm pleased you liked it. It's another one from last century. I note your comment about structuring and layout - not something I go in for, except to try to have each line as an entity itself. As for rhyme and rhythm? Er.

Midges where you are?

Regards,

Gerald

Gothicman on 12-07-2015
Vacant Possession
Yes, each line an entity, good advice and only becomes then as free poetry in its true form. I left that important criteria for prosetry otherwise the longer technical content would come over as too stilted; boldly testing the limits and allowances of "creative writing!"
Last century? Gerald, where is your Muse and Mojo? Some under-active brains create best under stress to increase the flow, so a retired teacher would suddenly be relieved of all stress, and function less effectively? Over-actives should lay in a hammock, blindfolded, earmuffed, and fully-fed....
Midges? Go home, apologise to the wife, don't spend another night in the allotment shed!
Best,
Trevor

Author's Reply:


The Last Tiger (posted on: 19-06-15)
Back up for more air

Another dodo moment: impossible for homo sapiens to avoid making it an all-ticket spectacular, one to capture for the memory, to savour, as it were, with a titillating soupon of collective shame kicking in as an after-got, (and more kudos than being at someone's last concert, before he died. Perhaps.) Trailing something of the rescuee brought blinking out of the foetid jungle to be told the war was over, this fabled feline was fuming in his fake forest, cursing conservation's cock-up, (though with penis still intact.) Suddenly, he padded towards me, two poniards in his smouldering eyes, his sneering snarl rasping like an imperial accusation I really didn't deserve. That was when I jostled to the front of the crowd, calmly steadied my aim, and intrepidly bagged him. He didn't feel a thing. I felt elated: I had the screensaver to die for. I duly paused for reflection at the memorials to the dead keepers.

Archived comments for The Last Tiger
gwirionedd on 19-06-2015
The Last Tiger
"I had the screensaver to die for"....

(Smiles darkly)

I like the black humour in this.

The alliteration is perhaps slightly too much. I think you go a bit mad with the Fs.





Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, gwirionedd. I was hoping that readers would see that the excessive alliteration is a necessary constituent of the pee-taking process.

Regards,
Nemo.

Savvi on 19-06-2015
The Last Tiger
Some inspired word choices here Nemo, classy in your formidable style one I will keep reading until I fully understand. Best Keith

Author's Reply:
Good to hear from you again, Keith. Thanks for commenting. I hope your re-reads of this brings you some enjoyment - one of my favourites which still makes me snigger.

Cheers, Gerald

Gothicman on 19-06-2015
The Last Tiger
This fine poem is not a new one then, Gerald? Brilliant poetry again, expertly presented, a dodo moment indeed! Enjoyed in a sad way.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Newish compared to my other poems, written about four years ago. I have posted it before. I felt an overwhelming urge to put it out again. I'm pleased you enjoyed it a sad way, (as intended.) Thanks for commenting, Trevor.
Gerald

Mikeverdi on 19-06-2015
The Last Tiger
Thanks for giving us another chance to read this one, it is indeed a fine poem.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks,Mike. Better to post an old than not post at all.
Gerald.

Supratik on 21-06-2015
The Last Tiger
A formidable read! Sad too, with some powerful expressions like fake forest, a dodo moment. Would like to know the purpose behind using French words in between...you must have thought they were necessary. It's a poem I'd like to come back and re-read. Best. Supratik

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Supratik. There's an element of sneering in this poem, sneering at human stupidity. It may be pretentious of me but that's what came out. Lines 6 to 9 are influenced by what I have seen of wine connoisseurs and the pretentious language they use - they don't 'taste', they 'savour' rather than taste and they refer to a 'soupçon' of a 'je ne sais quoi', etc. 'After-goût' just followed on.
One of my personal favourites. Pleased you liked it. It received a nib last time I posted it. No such luck this time, but I'll get over it.
Regards, Gerald


Valediction (posted on: 29-05-15)
On hearing that my old school is being pulled down after 92 years.

They're demolishing my old school without asking, the classrooms have been emptied for the last time, but the sorrow of their emptiness will hang around, the way the smell of cleanliness at the start of term hurts like a new beginning in the pit of the stomach. Old boys will think on the times they returned: the painful rush of memories at an old desk, images of former selves, the gauntlet of corridors. What's left for survival's indeterminate compromise but a poor elsewhere for reflection on those they knew and didn't know who went off to die in war or life? Even the nothingness that remains of what was lived and learnt is being obliterated: soon there will be no grave at which to mourn.

Archived comments for Valediction
Weefatfella on 29-05-2015
Valediction
Aye, old schools are usually the first to be gotten rid of. Whether it's the bricks and wrought iron railings or the ideaology. Enjoyed the memories Nemo..

Weefatfella

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Weefatfella.

Nemo

Mikeverdi on 29-05-2015
Valediction
You have a way with your reflective poems, of reaching into my inner most thoughts...some I never knew I had. They surface, and I see them as in this poem, although I think this grave is one I wouldn't visit; the memories are not all good. I love the line about the "gauntlet of corridors". Great writing again Gerald.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike.

Gerald.


A Brief Life (posted on: 22-05-15)


The class was reading Heaney's 'The Underground.' "What can you tell me about line 9?" I asked. "It's a waltz rhythm," he said, the only one who noticed. There's always a prime memory of those who are dead. The congregation of parents, relatives, neighbours, teachers, classmates, college friends: all their prime memories, put them all together and you might have the great man he could have been. Some made him a musician, others a historian, a prime minister. No note, no past history, no hint. The vicar went for solace, conducting like a maestro the puzzled, the bewildered. No mention of the planning, the purchase of the rope. That he'd had the courage to pull out, not to prolong the battle, the stalemate - no mention of that. You carry on waltzing, I guess he was saying. (Student of mine. Took his own life at university, aged 19. May 2013)

Archived comments for A Brief Life
Nomenklatura on 22-05-2015
A Brief Life
As always, splendid writing, evocative and layered.


Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Ewan. Pleased you liked it.

Regards,
Gerald

e-griff on 22-05-2015
A Brief Life
Excellent stuff, deep and convincing, well expressed for interest, telling you more than it says.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, John.

Regards,

Gerald

Mikeverdi on 22-05-2015
A Brief Life
Truly great writing Gerald.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Mike. Thanks,
Gerald.

pommer on 22-05-2015
A Brief Life
Very deep, saying so much in few words. Well done Gerald, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Pleased you liked it, Peter.

Gerald.

Pronto on 22-05-2015
A Brief Life
A sad read skilfully written. Well done poet!

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Pronto.

Cheers, Gerald.

deadpoet on 24-05-2015
A Brief Life
A well crafted poem. Very sad and tragic that a young gifted person felt this way about life. Well done.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Pia. Sad, indeed. He was in his first year at university and apparently very happy. No one knows what went wrong.

Gerald

gwirionedd on 03-06-2015
A Brief Life
A sad and thought-provoking poem...

People normally assume that suicide is an act of cowardice. But, as you rightly point out, it is an inconceivably enormous step to take, and one which requires great courage.

For example, I personally could never do it. Even in my darkest, weakest, most hopeless of hours I could never have done that.



Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting.

Nemo


Trucker (posted on: 15-05-15)


He must have been a thundering highway-truck of a man; he filled the screen like he'd filled his cab, but talked much smaller now; his photogenic sorrow drew cameras off his wife, staring moistly from the sofa's brink. He looked crushed, run down, for he had not swerved to avoid himself. One imagined the family business rusting, abandoned, in the back-yard of his mind. Heaving heavy-haulage man, he must have begged to fade with the brakes, to be ground to dust in the brake-drum he let his son blow clean. (From the days when brake linings contained asbestos)

Archived comments for Trucker
Mikeverdi on 15-05-2015
Trucker
Bugger....that packs a punch. Great sadness wrapped in these words Gerald. It must have taken something to write, it sounds personal...someone you knew?
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. Not based on someone I know, but a response to a very moving programme I watched - about 25 years ago - it might have been Panorama about asbestos and it featured an American truck driver who had lost his son to asbestosis.
Regards,
Gerald

Gothicman on 16-05-2015
Trucker
Is this a new one, Gerald?
If it is, you haven't lost it, brilliant creative poetry on original themes. Poems like this distinguishes you from the average rest who (like me Hahaha) rehash familiar scenes. You have a rare talent indeed my friend! Another into favourites! If it isn't new...well...
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Not a new one, Trevor, I don't seem to do new ones. The last new one was in February - you've read it - 'Ask Flaubert.' Nothing to write about, not going to force things, besides I've got my work cut out at the moment, growing things at my allotment. You'd think being so close to nature and all the solitude would bring on a poem or two, but no such luck. Is that where you are now, Sweden, for good? So this is an 'old poem' from around 1988. It got published in Envoi magazine. Pleased you liked it. Thanks for you comment and for favouriting it.
Gerald.


The Sunshine Room (posted on: 01-05-15)
Two Days at Barts

Day 1 ''Morning! I'm the registrar.'' (. this is worse than the butchery at Smithfield! Coming to Cobalt Two will cut up your soul.) ''If you'd just bring your daughter this way, please. All we do today, dear, is measure you up: angular blue lines here, here, on your temples, to position the blocks of lead which will protect your eyes.'' (. and turn heads in the street!) ''Children do love going to the Sunshine Room.'' (. old enough to understand she must lie still, but not young enough not to know what she's got .) ''Do give her time to look around afterwards.'' (Appreciate our concern, huddled over microscopes, earnest laboratories sorting cells, curing that today, and perhaps this tomorrow .) ''Bye, now, see you again, tomorrow, dear, and don't wash that warpaint off for three weeks! Day 2 She's got blue lines on her bare scalp especially for today. The new girl. There are older ones - you can tell they've been here before: believers in the just-audible hello - the life-enhancing chemistry of nicely forced smiles; house-proud mind-tidiers, trying to hack the ivy out. At least the older ones are well behaved, setting a good example, which looks like courage to the new girl whose name has just been called. Suddenly, her life's like a nasty end to a children's story, turning on her, snarling, reaching for her throat, as she enters the lift down to the Sunshine Room. And afterwards, off to St. Katharine Docks to see the yachts. Come on now, your headscarf's very pretty. Yes, we'll be getting your uniform tomorrow. Of course, you'll be going to your new school next week.

Archived comments for The Sunshine Room
Mikeverdi on 01-05-2015
The Sunshine Room
Bloody hell.....

Author's Reply:
Great comment, thanks, Mike. And thanks for the nom, too.
Gerald.

deadpoet on 01-05-2015
The Sunshine Room
Sounds frightening. I wonder what Cobalt Two is?

Author's Reply:
Cobalt 2 - the name given to the radiotherapy treatment room.


A Visit to the Southbank (posted on: 20-04-15)


''Endless. The possibilities are endless.'' I like it. In fact, I tell my wife. She claims she noticed it first. We'll never agree. Our son, James, and his new partner, Moya, join in as well. Soon all the visitors on the fifth floor of Tate Modern are joining in. If you stare at an exhibit for long enough, other people think you've cracked it and have worked out the conundrum, and feel obliged to join in, to avoid looking stupid. For example, the one hundred and twenty house-bricks arranged two-deep five by twenty in a rectangle on the floor, with don't-touch lines around them. But much more fun is to get everyone stooping and genuflecting at the four three-foot high cubes with mirrors on all the visible sides. If you stand in front of each cube and peer over the top into the one opposite, you can see the two cubes reflecting each other down what appears to be a tunnel, endlessly. Even more fascinating is the fact that, as you change from one cube to other, the curvature of each tunnel is different from the next. The fun doesn't end there, because if you look sideways into the cubes rather than over the top, you get another set of reflected cubes, but this time they curve to the side, and don't go down a tunnel. Now there are so many visitors peering at the cubes that eventually we move away and stand back, admiring our handiwork. All the new visitors to this room are wondering what is going on and are approaching the cubes. The Indian attendant is jubilant, he has never seen so many people interested in this exhibit before. ''You have made me very busy,'' he says. ''I am usually very bored, but now I am having to be very watchful to make sure people don't cross the line.'' It is my son he speaks to and I feel slighted, as I reckon I started the whole thing off. Not according to my wife. One thing worries me - was this the artist's intention? Someone will say it doesn't matter. Modern art is modern art. Is the first creative bit what the artist does? Perhaps the next creative bit is what you make of it. Rather like the flattering captions on the wall which say more about the exhibit, you suspect, than the artist intended. ************ ''All is not what it seems,'' I almost remark to nobody in particular, as I run my finger along the backs of the second-hand books. Therefore, the manner in which I run my finger along the backs of the books will be interpreted in different ways by nobody in particular who happens to be looking in my direction or visualising the scene if reading this. Or it will go unremarked, like the thought that preceded the movement of the finger, or the brushstroke, the laying of the bricks, the simile. 'Confluence.' Running my finger over the backs of the books, I have time to savour this word that comes from nowhere, now, like the theme of a story, under Waterloo Bridge, in the sunshine, before my wife returns with coffee from the National Film Theatre opposite; this word which insinuates its way into a narrative, bringing lives together like books on a stall, in all weathers and all seasons: the word itself relishing its own metaphorical magnificence as it mingles the merging waters before discharging them mercilessly into a mighty ocean of possibilities. Second hand books on a bookstall, mercilessly thrown together into a mass grave of writers' inspiration. Do we care for the thought that precedes a simile or is it somehow a mere nuga compared with that which precedes the dab of a brush or the laying of one hundred and twenty bricks? Isn't a Moby Dick worth a Fighting Temeraire or a Madame Bovary worth a Rodin's Kiss? Yes, we all say in unison, but we're glad these books are knowingly undersold. 'Strada'.la strada.strata....street.my life's like a faraway street I can't remember: I walk down it and afterwards I can't remember what it was like, how the buildings were arranged, what the buildings looked liked, who passed me, anything that happened. My wife can remember everything. If I want to know, I ask her. She remembers. If I wanted to know what I ate at 'Strada', she would remember. Moya described growing up in Belfast during 'The Troubles.' That much I can remember of our visit to 'Strada', but not the shape of the tables, not the waiter's face nor if he had beads of sweat on his nose; not the time it took to get the bill; if it was the same waiter who brought it or another; if the toilets were memorable in any way. These might be the sort of things you remember, but not me. It is the Spring Bank Holiday. It seems to bring them out: singletons secretly scribbling in notebooks. It is the 'strada effect' - they mustn't miss a thing; they mustn't let their lives get away from them; they mustn't forget a thing: the drama of the setting, the whole South Bank thing, the National Theatre, the National Film Theatre, Tate Modern, the book stalls, the Thames. They all seem to be young. They are tucked away in corners, huddled behind walls, squatting on grass verges, cradled in the arms of statues, pretending to be out of sight; the writers of our great future, keeping diaries, making notes, getting it all down on paper. Hopefuls, carpediemists. How I envy them! Perhaps these scribblers, too, will have their day and finally end up on the second hand bookstalls, where they will undoubtedly be content to settle for temporary immortality, it being better than none. The four of us have come to the end of a pleasant afternoon. Before parting, we pause again at the bookstalls, exchange words about books we have read or mean to. I am recommended an author whose name I immediately forget. One last desultory glance at the books and I am astonished to come across a copy of 'Elegies' by Douglas Dunn, the poems he wrote following the death of his wife. ''What on earth is this doing here? How can people part with books like this? It won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award in 1985!'' ''Probably a house clearance,'' James remarks, ''a job lot.'' The slender volume flicks open at 'Reading Pascal in the Lowlands'. My eyes fall once again on the lines: 'It is discourteous to ask about Accidents, or of the sick, the unfortunate. I do not need to, for he says ''Leukaemia''. We look at the river, his son holding a rod, The line going downstream in a cloud of flies.' Somewhere, a young doctor was making his way down a hospital corridor to speak to the parents of a child. His white coat was flapping as he walked. He was carrying a file with the results of a test. As he drew closer, he changed direction abruptly and came back a few minutes later, having got his face right. To give bad news. I snap out of my reverie and replace the book. Our day out has ended. We say goodbye and return to our homes.
Archived comments for A Visit to the Southbank
Mikeverdi on 20-04-2015
A Visit to the Southbank
Gerald, I love this, I am sorry if our work isn't getting the attention it deserves, or we may want, at the moment. This is magnificent in my opinion.
Thank you for the read.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. I'm pleased you liked it. It's a strand from a longer short story. Thanks for the nom.
Regards, Gerald.

Rab on 22-04-2015
A Visit to the Southbank
I liked it too; Very strong story and an ending that elevates it to a higher plane. Is the longer version available?

Author's Reply:
Thank you for your comment. I'm pleased you liked it. The version containing this extract is called 'Story in Three Fonts' posted on 13-06-2014.

Regards,

Nemo


Paperweight (posted on: 13-04-15)


I passed it round the class: a piece of Roman pottery; expected them to gasp, to marvel at something so old: part of a handle, red fired clay with traces of ancient paint; wanted them to imagine the potter at his wheel, his black curly hair, sitting in the sun, turning the glistening jug, attaching the curving handle, adding delicate grooves with the tip of his wet finger, for a pleasing effect at the height of the Empire; reckoned they would surmise he was a potter who would not know how many hands would grasp this handle and carry the vessel which would serve its purpose (for how long?) until it broke, and a piece of the handle was inserted in mortar between blocks of stone at the base of the temple wall, in Municipium Augusta Bilbilis, in Hispania, till I retrieved it two thousand years later; thought they might wonder if a thirsty builder placed it there, after drinking from the jug which slipped from his grip and broke because he was drunk, perhaps; or a cheeky child or a passer-by, sneakily pushing it into place, like carving initials for a laugh or something to be remembered for, before finally the mortar went dry; assumed they'd ask themselves what things of theirs would someone find in two thousand years, what legacy would they leave? hoped I'd left them mine. The ever optimistic teacher. Municipium Augusta Bilbilis: ruins of a Roman city, near Catalayud, Aragn, Spain.

Archived comments for Paperweight
Mikeverdi on 14-04-2015
Paperweight
Enjoyed the read Gerald, I've visited many sites around the Med thinking of how things may have been. I've always wondered at what age children take in these visits, the parents wandering the ruins of Ephesus with kids, their faces wishing they were elsewhere. At schools its down to the teachers to gain the interest I guess. I only had one that could do that sadly.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. I'm pleased you liked it.
Cheers,
Gerald.

sweetwater on 14-04-2015
Paperweight
I wish I had a teacher who brought such life and colour into something as simple as an ancient jug handle. I loved the way you made me feel I was there watching this dark haired potter sitting in the sun. Terrific poem, hugely enjoyed. Sue x

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked this. Thanks for faving it.
Gerald.

bo_duke99 on 15-04-2015
Paperweight
structured, and quite brilliant, much enjoyed - Greg

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by. PLeased you liked it.
Gerald.


Asylum (posted on: 06-04-15)
Third person version.

White-coated greetings, stinging questions, back with the morning, drone straight at her, then swarm past, turmoil in their wake, a whirlpool of noise, muddying the air, spinning, sucking her into its still-centre of thrumming silence: and she curls herself up in her rolled-up vacuum, her solitary where she hangs out her days one by one, back turned to the here-and-now peeping in, rattling keys. Still, after the pills, a nightingale sings: the trees have sparkles in their hair: wide-armed, she can inhale the world, roam knee-deep in darkness, and be herself till dawn.

Archived comments for Asylum
Mikeverdi on 07-04-2015
Asylum
I've read this a few times Gerald, I'm still getting to grips with it. I see what it is (I think) and find it desperately sad. Some of the lines almost bring tears as I can remember sitting with someone so apart from my reality, and me just trying to connect. "She hangs out her days one by one" so evocative. The meds taking her to another world where the sun always shines, and yes they do that. The problem is, no one lives in that world ...they just exist.

This poem speaks to me Gerald, thanks for posting.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Many thanks for your comment, Mike. I don't know how I managed to come up with this poem - about 20 years ago - and I've never been able able to decide whether to use the first or the third person. The first would be a bit suspect, I suppose, as I've never experienced this awful situation. But then again, the person version is also suspect as how could I have known what it's like to have to have such an illness. I'm not even sure the title is right. Still, I'm pleased it worked for you.
Regards,
Gerald.

deadpoet on 07-04-2015
Asylum
I was once like her. Now I am growing old and this seems all I have of memories so I do try to live in the now. I think you expressed this very well. It's still a wonder why some of us get into this state- so far from reality- but a lot of the time reality is hard to cope with.I guess Mike is right- you just exist in that medicated world- never get far that way. My world changed after I changed it. No doctor could do that for me. But I have to admit apart from the medication- the recent years they have become a lot more capable of handling mentally ill. It almost took a lifetime for me to be able to say I feel well and even now it's hard at times. My heart bleeds for young people with mental illness.

Author's Reply:
Thank you for your comment, Pia. As I said to Mike, I don't know how this poem came about. I still feel a fraud as it's purely imaginary. I'm sorry to learn this was a real experience for you and I'm pleased you are better.
Best wishes,
Gerald

bo_duke99 on 13-04-2015
Asylum
fascinating and excellently executed, and much enjoyed

Author's Reply:
I'm pleased you enjoyed it.
Nemo


The Lemon Thing (posted on: 30-03-15)


Clever it was, of that philosopher to ask: what colour is a lemon in the dark? Yellow, you say, of course it's yellow. But in your heart of hearts, you admit really it's black, when there's no light. And what about that memory - it's locked away, it's buried deep - is it black like a lemon, when you keep it in the dark? You could prise it out, hold it to the light, see the true colour, the way it was, the way it happened, the way it must have hurt.

Archived comments for The Lemon Thing
Mikeverdi on 30-03-2015
The Lemon Thing
Love it! Cuts like a knife.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike.
Cheers,
Gerald.

sweetwater on 31-03-2015
The Lemon Thing
Very nice, sharp, precise. Brings you swiftly to the whole meaning of the poem. Loved it. Sue.

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it. Thanks, Sue.
Gerald.


An English Idyll (posted on: 23-03-15)


A sunny day at the weekend, very English, ready to be enjoyed, plants planted, patio scrubbed, decking laid, wine chilled, recliners reclining. The other side of the fence she is getting her washing in. they hear the pegs fall one by one into her peg-box, each with a nonchalant loudness that sounds deliberate. She snaps the rotary washing-line shut, with an insouciant loudness that sounds deliberate. She places the floral cover over the rotary washing-line and zips it up, with a petulant loudness that sounds deliberate. Now she is hoovering, with a haughty loudness that sounds deliberate. She will hoover again tomorrow, so he won't need to shout. When he shouts, he shouts, with a fuck-you loudness that's definitely deliberate. Back in the house, they creep around gingerly like respectful mice, a few more drops of Baby Bio on their blooming resentment.

Archived comments for An English Idyll
Mikeverdi on 23-03-2015
An English Idyll
Closed doors and closed minds, we never know do we. It's a different style to normal. I like the last verse, good metaphor Gerald.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. Not a poem I'm pleased with, just a filler while I wait for something to turn up.
Cheers,
Gerald.

pommer on 23-03-2015
An English Idyll
Very good Gerald,I have met a few in my time during our many moves.I too liked the last very fitting verse. Be lucky, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by, Peter.
Regards,
Gerald.

sweetwater on 24-03-2015
An English Idyll
Great write, I know which side of the fence I would rather sit on to enjoy the flowers. Why do people allow themselves to end up like that? Sue.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Sue. Just a moan about some people's lack of consideration for others.
Gerald.

bo_duke99 on 30-03-2015
An English Idyll
class, really enjoyed

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
Nemo


Through the Wall (posted on: 16-03-15)
Surreal. In the state between sleeping and waking

Waking us up in the night the cat we were drowning is a baby under the water, and the pair of voices bubbling through the wall are frantic divers, cradling, bringing up the victim, draining congested lungs. We step back from the water's edge, discreet pillows over our ears, and, like the coal-tar vaporiser that is the votive candle smelling sweet in a tourists' church, let the pungency of others' pain duly incense the room next-door; and empathy's confessional be a nice old Tardis in the dark, dematerialising us back to sleep.

Archived comments for Through the Wall
Mikeverdi on 19-03-2015
Through the Wall
Had a bad night Gerald? A bit odd this one, I will come back and try again 🙂
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks for having a read of this, Mike. I'm used to it baffling people - think of it as being about being fed up with being woken up by noise made by a very sick child coming from next door but instead of feeling sympathetic we prefer to get back to sleep. The poem asks if this is the right reaction. It's actually one of my personal favourites for its imagery and compression. It's not to everyone's taste but it has been published in two UK poetry magazines.
Cheers,
Gerald.


Charlesworth (posted on: 13-03-15)


Bang in the middle of Beech Road, just past the prefabs, on the way home from school in the first year, was where Charlesworth told me what mums and dads did in bed. And the way it was afterwards: I can rebuild more or less the tall brick wall of his house which we used plus the fence of the one next door for unarmed cricket up the narrow path between. And more or less the way I remember, I can dog-tongue after sixes misfielded by the hedge, count the balls that weren't counted, and deserving a bat at last, be a sadist's set of stumps before limping home to tea, and sitting with what he said, wondering if it showed.

Archived comments for Charlesworth
franciman on 13-03-2015
Charlesworth
Wistful and evocative. I loved the introduction of the taboo, then the deflection into childhood memory. The return in the final two lines was brilliant.
Your services to the glamorisation of the boredom that is cricket, should be recognised Gerald!
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Jim. What's better than listening to the BBC commentary on test cricket in the garden in a glorious English summer afternoon? Thanks for liking my wee poem.
Cheers,
Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 13-03-2015
Charlesworth
Oh Gerald, you are so good at these memory lane visits. Another well deserved Nib to add to you're collection, you are indeed a top writer. As Jim said the return is wonderful. Please accept my nomination to go with the Nib
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks for the nom, Mike. This is another old poem I've dug out and I've just added what Charlesworth told me to it. This is all I remember about him. He was there for a while in my first year in secondary school then he was gone.
Regards,
Gerald

sweetwater on 15-03-2015
Charlesworth
Loved it! Brought back memories of cowboys and Indians with the boy next door, I was the cowboy, I had a bright red holster and silver gun with caps. Never had to play cricket though, thankfully. Fascinating glimpse into your past. sue x

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Sue. I'm pleased it did something for you.
Gerald


Back to Normal in the Playground (posted on: 06-03-15)


In shadow, over by the fence, I watch them come galloping out, trample through the seagulls' camp, secure slowly round and close corrals. Young manes flutter, heads toss vain bravadoes. Suddenly feet shift, break into movement; eddies of delicious panic churn in on themselves; splashing shrieks drench the towering cliffs of sky, then subside, lapping round the million stars like a spent froth of useless S.O.S. It is as if I've not long pounced and dragged one off - what isn't, never was, declare their brazen eyes. So does the quietening bell calling the children in, so do the seagulls, circling back to reclaim their domain.

Archived comments for Back to Normal in the Playground
franciman on 06-03-2015
Back to Normal in the Playground
Such a well-formed, competent piece. Easy to recite; difficult to put down. The imagery is superb, carrying sound and motion that is almost palpable. My only quibble is the 2nd line of the last stanza 'so do' too nearly a repetition of 'so does' -A possible solution might be 'and the seagulls'. Nonetheless, my favourite poem for ever such a long time,
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
I'm enjoying your response to this poem Jim. Another one from the last century. Thanks for the nom and the fav. About the so does/so do, I was aiming to convey the sense that the watcher, who is Death, is all too familiar with the quietening bell, the passing bell, especially at children's funerals, the sense that he's seen it all before and is mocking any efforts to return to normality.
Cheers,
Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 06-03-2015
Back to Normal in the Playground
I look forwards every week to your offering Gerald, I am never left wanting. This is, as always, superb.
Congratulations on the Nib and Nomination.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Mike. I have posted this before but I'm thinking it works better now with this more helpful title.
Cheers,
Gerald.


Spring Platitudes (posted on: 02-03-15)
Sonnet for two voices

''Never thought he'd do this on a spring day, not when the house is paid for and us kids are off his hands; filling time's easy - hey, he could have got started on all those weeds! Today's most definitely one for getting out there, for getting stuck in; no sense is there, just staring through the window, letting time go by, rather than fix those fences.'' ''It's the bookmark feeling that's put him out: flat as a pressed flower in a tiresome book - like when you open the garden door that lets in the smell of blossom and sets you back another year - he's just marking the last chapter at the point where people get lost.''

Archived comments for Spring Platitudes
Mikeverdi on 02-03-2015
Spring Platitudes
Ah...I cant agree with John... I wouldn't change a single thing. I get this, much of my own writing deals with this time. Just wonderful in my opinion.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Mike. Another one of my old ones. I thought I'd have a go at writing a sonnet - not easy. It's not about me though,I wasn't the old man in the poem when I wrote it.
Regards,
Gerald

franciman on 02-03-2015
Spring Platitudes
It's cucumber that 'repeats'on me. So this is a sonnet? I've never written one knowingly, but when l do I hope it's as good as this.
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Jim. I've only written two sonnets - for 'fun.'
Cheers,
Gerald

e-griff on 02-03-2015
Spring Platitudes
I deleted my original comment, as reading it again I realised your reaction to it was completely justified. It was very badly expressed.

If you forget the intended form for a moment, and see it as two parts, for me the second part is far, far stronger than the first, and I believe it could stand on its own very creditably. (And I will refrain from flippant suggestions as to substitution for 'book'). I hope that clarifies my opinion. 🙂

Author's Reply:

Miel on 03-03-2015
Spring Platitudes
Nicely done... I have never been able to write a sonnet myself! I really liked this one.

Author's Reply:
Thank you for commenting, Miel. I'm pleased you liked it.
Gerald

Andrea on 03-03-2015
Spring Platitudes
I wouldn't k ow a sonnet from a hole in the ground, but I really liked this!

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Andrea. I think you're kidding about sonnets. I bet you were compared to a summer's day when you were at school!
Regards,
Gerald

sweetwater on 03-03-2015
Spring Platitudes
Can understand and empathise with this, where is the need to get on and do something, when there really isn't any need anymore. Everything that had to be accomplished has been. All direction is now lost. The main part of the book is read, what interest is there in the final chapters? Forgive me if I have got it all wrong, but that is how it came across to me. Very much enjoyed it. Sue.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Sue. Your understanding is right, to an extent. The poem is intended to be more than that, however. I was aiming with the title word 'platitudes' with the root 'plat', French for 'flat', a word I bring into the poem to convey the man's 'flat' feelings of depression, to poke fun at the age-old idea that the advent of spring is a time of renewal, hope and rejuvenation. For some its arrival just confirms their misery at their inability to respond.
On that happy note, cheers,
Gerald.


Council Meeting (posted on: 27-02-15)


Objection started it: broke the glass tension. Words inflamed one corner, flared around the room. They leaped to their feet; drew burning swords to blaze and scorch; but, turned back by mirror-wit, seared themselves, and caved in, a divided rubble, the protest of embers. From the chair came a dampening-down, delayed to perfection, waving away the stench of politics, as the school was extinguished for good, with a rubber stamp.

Archived comments for Council Meeting
Mikeverdi on 27-02-2015
Council Meeting
Something you know about Gerald? In Plymouth there have been many exchanges of late. I've often thought about giving local politics a go, looking at what's out there 🙂
Mike

Author's Reply:
I'm too busy scratching my head to come up with new poems to get involved in local politics. Don't let me put you off but if you've got any ideals or scruples, you'll have to lose them.

I've attended a couple of protest meetings but not this one - it was too heated.

Gerald

franciman on 27-02-2015
Council Meeting
Biting, atmosphere and such a wonderful piece of writing. 'the protest of embers' 'the stench of politics' too many great lines.
And the profound sadness at the end. Well. ...
Nominated, favourited Hope you get how much I enjoyed this?
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
I'm delighted you enjoyed this, Jim. Thanks for nominating and favouriting it. Thanks for the rate, too.
Best wishes,
Gerald.

e-griff on 27-02-2015
Council Meeting
Phew, glad I wasn't at that meeting. But well described and imagined I would say. I know you deliberately used the word 'rubble' but it is very close to the word 'rabble' and it may be that some will spend time wondering if you meant that. It might be as well to avoid such an unintended glitch,

Author's Reply:
Thanks for your observation, John. In reply I have to state here and now that I will not forgive anybody who dares to think I have produced an unintended glitch.

Readers will observe that, although the meeting is run by and attended by human beings, they are never mentioned, They will therefore have the wit to see that it would be inappropriate in this context to write 'rabble' and that I am punning upon the word 'rubble.' They will, moreover, be beside themselves with self-congratulation when they realise that in some parts of the country and, indeed, of the world, the two words are indistinguishable to the ear. You can divine the intense enjoyment I have derived from this line as I have been salivating over it ever since I came up with it 25 years ago.

Regards,
Gerald

e-griff on 27-02-2015
Council Meeting
Ha, ha! That's one of the most unusual responses I've ever had.

Weird...... But wonderful. 🙂

Author's Reply:
You're welcome.


Rain (posted on: 23-02-15)


Heavy, as forecast, for evening commuters; a ferocious attack, arrows angled in, Agincourt again. In serried ranks, caution or cowardice at the wheel, our carapace motorcade progresses at a stately pace. Street lights, swaying like yellow-eyed brachiapods, wave, spread sheets of gold before us; the wind's applause buffets our cars, spraying our windows with champagne as we pass, cheering us home, victors of sorts.

Archived comments for Rain
Mikeverdi on 23-02-2015
Rain
Had a morning like this with the dogs, I hate the winter. Even those days of blue sky and frost don't make me love it more.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Can't remember when I wrote this. Shortened it a bit. Thanks for reading, Mike.
Gerald

franciman on 23-02-2015
Rain
Evocative. Topical as well. I loved the last stanza.
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Jim.
Gerald

sweetwater on 24-02-2015
Rain
If it's going to rain, this is the sort you want providing you're not on foot. Love the drama, the swaying street lamps and their 'spread sheets of gold' and the rain coated windows. So atmospheric, great poem. Sue 🙂

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Sue.
Gerald

Bozzz on 24-02-2015
Rain
Delightful piece - posh neighbourhood - still on sodium brachiapod lighting and raining champagne goes with that. Brief classic and nibworthy IMHO. My best, David

Author's Reply:
The sodium goes back to the 90s when this was written. It still rains champagne in Essex. Thanks for commenting, David.
Gerald


Chill Factors (posted on: 20-02-15)


Step outside today and, penetrating like neuralgia, worsening by the year, the cold air brings to mind something far more chilling than Arctic winds, or ice inside windows in the old house a lifetime ago. A freezing mist hovers in the garden... there were times when it carried plague and beliefs were believed, like those that plague us today. I watch synaptic sparrows surviving on seeds I have placed on their table. With luck, they will live a little longer, before quietly dying in secret, unmourned, a happy death they never knew they'd have. Ready to go at eighty, she said she wanted to die, and again at ninety. Lifeless as a rag doll at ninety-four, slumped over the edge of her pillow, she'd have come apart if I'd lifted her back. Getting her way at last, she recognised me before watching me leave, the way we always see someone for the last time.

Archived comments for Chill Factors
Mikeverdi on 20-02-2015
Chill Factor
It's never easy to read, or more so to write, words such as these when it's personal; with you it always seems personal. This may be a tribute to your writing skills...whatever, I always know I'm going to be moved.
This was no exception Gerald.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike, This is one of the old ones revised. With very few exceptions, all my poems are written from what I have experienced.
Gerald

sweetwater on 20-02-2015
Chill Factor
Oh gosh, so moving, beautifully written. Perfection in print for me. Sue.

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Sue. Thanks for making it a favourite.
Gerald

franciman on 20-02-2015
Chill Factor
Hi Gerald,
A bit like the Curate's Egg for me. The last stanza is outstanding and I love 'she’d have come apart if I'd lifted her back.' The rest I found unnecessary. I didn't get the connection between death and chill. Just me I'm sure.
If it were just the last verse I would have rushed to nominate it.
Sorry.
Jim

Author's Reply:
Hi Jim,
Thanks for having a look at this. I hoped the lines: "the cold air brings to mind something far more chilling than Arctic winds..." would establish a link between a relative's death and the chilling thought of one's own.

I'm seriously thinking of making the title plural: "Chill Factors."

I'm pleased you liked the last stanza but I think it would be a bit blunt on its own. Perhaps I'll submit it separately another time.

Gerald


e-griff on 20-02-2015
Chill Factors
I thought this was excellent. atmospheric, carefully chosen words to paint the mood, and a sad, chill, theme.

Enjoyed it very much.

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, John.
Regards, Gerald

Bozzz on 21-02-2015
Chill Factors
The most moving part for me was of the 'synaptic sparrows' - mirroring our life near the end - taking what little is offered with what little strength we have. Brilliant Gerald ..... David

Author's Reply:
Thanks for your appreciative comment, David.
Gerald


Landlady 1966 (posted on: 16-02-15)
Poem begun in 1967, last stanza added in 1970 conveniently incorporating the words 'In Place of Strife' - the name of a Government White Paper 1969

She sits like a sausage in front of her telly, wasting one gnarled paw on her barren belly, and craning the other thin claw from drag to drag, between her vain-red lips of a stuck-at-home hag and the fusty air of a draughtless dwindling life. When the telly's done and ruthless night is come, she painfully inserts her frigid frame so glum between the sheets where Earnest turned his shoulder like the last time he died and made the bed grow colder - there she aches away the lonely hours like no-one's wife. She lies with staring sigh for nighties never lifted: soulless years when Earnest's pleasure never shifted across the unstained gap of their bitter union to fill the hollow where once she craved communion with him to gain peace in her mind in place of strife.

Archived comments for Landlady 1966
Mikeverdi on 16-02-2015
Landlady 1966
Again you capture the time and the moment in a vivid portrayal, the lines scream out "she lies with staring sigh for nighties never lifted". This is great writing by anybodies judgement.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. My dreadful landlady from my postgrad year - I only put up with her for six weeks. She told me off because a friend called round to give me a lift into town and I invited him in! This is my cruel and totally unreasonable act of revenge imagining her like this! I'm really surprised someone thinks it's worth a nib - there are some really bad lines and as for nominating it - I don't believe it - was it you, Mike? Thanks to whoever it was, anyway, and for the nib.
Regards, Gerald.

franciman on 16-02-2015
Landlady 1966
Hi Gerald,
Methinks the lady protests too much. This is great verse. The reader nods affirmation on most of the lines. yes it is that accurate. you say it is unreasonable revenge but I find myself moved to sympathy. It takes more than random rhyme and regular rhythm to evoke such response from a reader. Grown-up, joined-up writing imho.
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Hi Jim,
That's hell of a compliment on my poem. I've no idea of that woman actually had such a miserable life. I made it up. 45 years ago! I thought it would come across as amusing rather than moving.
Thanks for commenting, Jim.
Gerald

Bozzz on 18-02-2015
Landlady 1966
Gerald, this is a brilliant poem, structured, rhythmic, rhymic and frighteningly accurate and beautiful in word selection. It brings home the agonising choice that loss of a partner in dotage brings - the clinging to routine as if it were the last desperate straw of sanity. What will I do? Yours, David


Author's Reply:
One of my first efforts written with malevolent intent. Now, it seems, it evinces compassion for this lady. I do find the rhythm a little uneven in places and the position of 'glum' rather archaic. But thanks anyway, David.
Cheers, Gerald.


Taken by a Reservoir, Somewhere up North, between 1958 and 1959 (posted on: 13-02-15)


It got to him from way back, homing in from an unromantic evening, typically late fifties, a Woolworth's painting dab of sunset hunkering down behind lowering dark rocks, the unerasable thought of her, the sting of cheap shampoo from her dishevelled hair, and, oh no, oh no, coming away non-the-wiser after not blunting an old penknife on the rough sandstone not bearing their names longer than themselves. Still the wry chuckle of water, the sky red-faced with sniggering, and the embarrassment of hair, stranded in time with a dull face, unenhanced by a life-time's exposure. No wonder the old photograph turned sour in his hands - in a postmodernist sort of way.

Archived comments for Taken by a Reservoir, Somewhere up North, between 1958 and 1959
Mikeverdi on 13-02-2015
Taken by a Reservoir, Yorkshire 1959
Good kick in the end lines Gerald, you know I'm a fan 🙂
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. Not much I can say about how this has been received. Plenty of hits but no bites.
Gerald

Ionicus on 15-02-2015
Taken by a Reservoir, Yorkshire 1959
Not so much sweet as bitter memories, Gerald, expressed in your inimitable style.
Quite often readers cannot identify with a piece that describe a personal experience of the writer. Consequently the response may be muted. This situation can be off-putting but it must not deter us from persevering.
Best, Luigi

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Luigi. Not a case of bitter memories as this is not a personal recollection but an attempt, which seems to have misfired, at wry mockery of insipid online 'broken hearts' poetry. Ah well, keep persevering, as you say.
Gerald


A Family Man (posted on: 09-02-15)


''Mr Hussein sends his apologies: things are difficult at work; he can't change his shifts anymore to come to these meetings.'' We shall miss you, Mr Hussein. Dexterously your chubby brown fingers wove the fabric of your story, the magic carpet that has flown us into the private mosaic of your heart. Your broken English tumbled from your lips, gurgled as it ran along the rills, brought new life to scorched fields halving the hurt we'd hawked before you while you alone held together the simple home the monsoon tried to wash away. Not with them, for they have broken your windows, those who also came to England to find a better life; cancelled too your daughter's marriage, arranged all those years ago; not even with your wife, at her respectful distance of ignorance, can you share your greatest hurt not the desert trek from doctor to doctor, your sickly child in your arms, not the vulture thermalling the uncertain cure, but knowing that no one wants to ride her bike, that she's lost her friends like handfuls of pretty hair on the bedroom floor. No, Mr Hussein, we haven't forgotten you; we think we should try to see you again.

Archived comments for A Family Man
Mikeverdi on 09-02-2015
A Family Man
I think I may have read this before, that said I am more than pleased to read it again. The pain and anguish scream out at me. You are such a good expressive writer Gerald. This site would be 'wanting' without you.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Yes, Mike, you have read this before, over a year ago. I'm still working through my stock of poems, revising and reposting. I've still got a few more to go then I'm off.
Thanks for commenting.
Gerald

Bozzz on 15-02-2015
A Family Man
The attraction of this cleverly worded piece for me is to wonder what went before and what is the reality behind the excuse. Sadness, yes because it is a terrifying symptom whose disease carries little hope of relief. A bit puzzled by the mix of Hussein and monsoon, but perhaps last winter's rain was the meaning - or is it just Manchester norm. Thicko David... with apologies.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, David. Mr Hussein or Hussain was from India - strong chance he would be familiar with monsoons. His daughter had cancer. Don't know what happened to her. Poem from 1985.
Gerald.


Ask Flaubert (posted on: 06-02-15)
We start Madame Bovary then we disappear

"We" start Madame Bovary then "we" disappear Googling back to where I was fifty years ago, I come out of the Ecole Normale on Rue Anselme and head for the Caf de la Butte on the corner. Lyon, hard and bitter in January, exhaust plumes trailing Simcas and Panhards on Boulevard de la Croix Rousse. Pierre brings me a coffee and a newspaper. "L'Angleterre est dans la merde, Wilson," the warmth of his daily greeting, whatever's on the front page today. The man from the British Consulate, blue-veined nose, public school hair, thin strands, John LeMesurier, raises his second glass of white, best way to start the day, he says, and I sneak away into Charles Bovary's classroom, looking round for the disappearing 'nous', the first word of the first sentence that's puzzled me ever since for half a century - such a short time ago, so easy to google back: back half a century times two and I'd be blown up in a boggy trench, which I'll give a miss; back times three and I could speak to Flaubert, ask if he was sorry for the way he used us and dumped us. Probably easier to skype him, you say.

Archived comments for Ask Flaubert
Gothicman on 06-02-2015
Ask Flaubert
In process of moving and selling, but before I disconnect my Mac Pro, just wanted to say how brilliant this piece is Gerald; beautifully written, interesting content, unembellished modern poetry you won't find better anywhere IMHO, another one for favourites. Be back in the spring.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Try and keep in touch, Trevor. I may post another one you like! Thanks for your comments on this - a new one at last after several months of not forcing things - only finished this morning - wasn't sure if it would make sense. Thanks for favouriting it, as well.
Have a good move!
Gerald

Mikeverdi on 08-02-2015
Ask Flaubert
Stunning....and well worth the wait 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thanks, again, Mike.
Gerald


Going Through the Photos (posted on: 02-02-15)
Revisiting

This was at Alan's in '89. We could hear the dishwasher hard at it in the kitchen like an au pair on heat rushing to knock off early. They had a new extension, that was where we had dinner. It occupied part of the garden which we admired after dessert, curtains being pulled back, and lights switched on specially. Surely you remember? It was dark, and a stream ran through the garden, but I said there were no gnomes fishing. We had the other Alan with us, the French Alain on the exchange. the one staying with us I showed "Allo 'Allo!" to, the one I told you asked 'Why do they tok like that?' You must remember now. Look, someone took this photograph - so we must have been there, with the small talk, cigars de rigueur, car doors banging after bedtime, and goodnights vaporising in the cold... You had no coat... you're shivering, perhaps you do remember.

Archived comments for Going Through the Photos
Mikeverdi on 02-02-2015
Going Through the Photos
I love these little stories you write, I'm sure others, like me, can see themselves it each one. The passing of time means nothing here, I am still living this.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Another old one, Mike. Still working on it, twenty years later. Just added a last line.
Thanks for reading and commenting.
Gerald.

sweetwater on 03-02-2015
Going Through the Photos
I loved this, a photograph coming alive before my eyes. Written as though you are speaking solely to the reader. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Sue. I'm pleased you liked this enough to favourite it.
Gerald.

stormwolf on 03-02-2015
Going Through the Photos
Hi Gerald

I remember this one from first time round. You say you have added the last line but I am not sure what it means.
It leaves me wondering why you never got invited out again or am I missing something?
The poem itself is rich and enjoyable. I could see it all so clearly.
Alison x



Author's Reply:
Hi Alison,
I've changed quite a few things since I posted this last time. Though it's not based on truth, I've added the last line because I didn't feel the story was complete at 'cold' and thought I'd add a touch of sorrow in the couple's life for the reader to think about. Not great literature but the production line's not working at the moment.
Regards, Gerald.

stormwolf on 03-02-2015
Going Through the Photos
I rather got the mental impression of a couple sitting reminiscing as they go through old photographs, with the man trying his best to jog the wife's memory.
I was thinking Altzeimers etc. that made it very poignant and makes The lines 'look someone took this photograph so we must have been there.' all the more sad.
In other words the jogging of the memory is a constant in the poem.
So the last line did not quite fit and I feel you could put in a killer last line to that effect but that's just my opinion.
I think it's good to go over old poems and rework them. So many can be changed any number of ways to good effect.
Again, I say a lovely poignant piece.


'

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Alison, for tbat prompt. Wasn't sure whether to push Alzheimers or not. I'm trying another ending.
Gerald

stormwolf on 03-02-2015
Going Through the Photos
Fab Gerald! Very emotive and heart-rending.
The loving concern shines through till the end. Anyone with loved ones suffering from Alzheimers or early dementia will be able to feel this acutely.
Alison x

Author's Reply:
The changes made seem to have done the trick. Trick it is as it's not based on personal experience. Thanks, Alison.
Gerald

stormwolf on 04-02-2015
Going Through the Photos
Yes, glad it's not based on fact in your instance Gerald. Congrats on the nib.
Alison x

Author's Reply:


After the Theatre (posted on: 30-01-15)


Vacating your seat, you too can make language move: so, elbowing to the exit is the camaraderie of culture, your carriage waits in the stack, concrete pillars are Corinthian columns, and driving up the greasy ramp, an exhilarating surge of metaphor. In the side-streets of reality, you devastatingly refute Eliot: it's all architectured down to size; the sky's a renaissance ceiling you could easily paint on your back, to one of Mozart's greatest hits. Oh, the puddled swish of driving home in the rain, beside yourself with optimism, finding all these original thoughts weaving through the slums, like beauty in rained-on mascara! And reaching home, how can you not admire the castle of your own routine that is better than no slippers and no cooking-for-one-smells in the right place with the photographs at your bedside, to remind you you won't be alone in the bed you've made properly for your fierce contentment? Anyway, you've done with Uncle Vanya sobbing back at the theatre, and quite understandably, you're trying to forget why he was.

Archived comments for After the Theatre
Mikeverdi on 30-01-2015
After the Theatre
Count me as one of your biggest fans, this is another fine write. I love the use of metaphor throughout 'like beauty in rained-on mascara' so perfect for the concept.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. Your comments are keeping us all persevering.
Gerald.

Bozzz on 31-01-2015
After the Theatre
After the funeral, after the theatre - always a step behind, gives you the advantage of arrière pensée – and Gerald you have the skill to exploit that in noble form. Here is no exception. Oh for the joy of a homeward "puddled swish". good man....David

Author's Reply:
Thanks again, David. Not sure what a 'puddled swish' is, but that's what came out.
Gerald.

Gothicman on 01-02-2015
After the Theatre
Excellent Gerald. A puddle-swish is what kids in wellies do to irritate their mums! Strong cultural experiences can leave a person with feelings of omnipotence ecstasy for a few hours afterwards, seeing drama in everything.
Excellent poetry
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Trevor. Omnipotence, could do.with some of that. My youngest grandson does puddle swishes. But what are puddled swishes? And is surplice-wings better than cassock-wings in the Afterwords poem?
Gerald.


Afterwords (posted on: 26-01-15)


i. In Attendance From the boundary of cypresses, the cassock-wings of a hang-glider minister closer and closer. On the chapel path, a fresh droplet of black oil from the hearse has put out and lost a human form, only minutes since delivery of the diminutive, beribboned box. Beyond the hedges round each raked and numbered bed, the town, the world, resumption, stand back for blotch-red grief, a couple's stumbling timelessness. Nervously, sympathy gets ready, to be useful, with useless arms. ii. A Small Do Engine capacities and a couple's performing dog keep the conversation going; so does someone's child at her elbow, with a noisy toy; or another, with its absence, still. More Camembert? Yes, please, to plug the holes in her pretence, until, on the drive home, the wintry sun breaks through the mist, and a perfect Turner sky, with its therapeutic banality, graces a silence she can bear.

Archived comments for Afterwords
Mikeverdi on 26-01-2015
Two Poems
That was stunning Gerald, poetry as carefully tended as the garden you write of in the first. The metaphor is perfection in 'A small do'...'to plug the holes in her pretence'. Strait into Favs for me.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. Two poems I've posted separately before. I've decided they belong together. The colleague lost her baby in childbirth the night of the great storm of 1987. Many thanks if you nominated them.
Gerald.

Gothicman on 29-01-2015
Afterwords
Yes, this really is stunning poetry skill, Gerald. This is quality poetry by a master of understatement and content development which builds-up to wholeness that encompasses the whole theme, leaves you still thinking, brilliant! I'm really surprised these two poems haven't received more attention and comments. 12 years ago on this fine poetry site you would have got 15 comments, I'm sure of that. Let's hope interest picks up and you get the recognition you deserve! (All IMHO of course!)
A favourite too.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Trevor. I'm pleased you liked it and favourited it. Yes, it is disappointing that submissions and comments are well down, even from when I joined this month two years ago.

Regards, Gerald

I've changed 'cassock-wings' to 'surplice-wings' with 'cassock' being a bit too close-fitting. I'd be grateful if you'd tell me what you think. Gerald.

Bozzz on 30-01-2015
Afterwords
Loved the 'hang glider minister', whatever the wing construction. I am sure the church could do with descent of more of them on a variety of occasions. Competition for the aviation museum and drones communities? Bravo....David...Apols for delay.

Author's Reply:
Thank you for commenting, David. Much appreciated.
Gerald


At the Station (posted on: 23-01-15)


When, without stopping, an express train has hurtled through the station, the commuters do not perceive how much older the people opposite grew while their view was blocked; nor, when another train clatters past in the other direction, do they see it obscure the circle of huts, the smouldering fires and the men with spears setting off to hunt for food - as if standing still's being only where you are, not stopping yourself stepping in front of the horses of the coach you don't see arrive, nor roasting your boar on a spit; as if waiting for a train is only choosing between what is and what isn't, like believing your paper's not a tree, though you're already on board, and leaving yourself behind.

Archived comments for At the Station
Gothicman on 23-01-2015
At the Station
Railway stations always have a strange relationship to time, a continual feeling of expectancy, made even more acute by the old signals that suddenly clanked up (now just lights) seen from train spotting points on the platform bridge. This was even more exciting in early boyhood when huge steam locomotives thundered through, shaking the whole station structure and leaving everything surrounded by a sooty cloud that dispersed as quickly as it came! A strange poem, but with your usual brilliant low-key messaging style Gerald. Enjoyable read.
Trevor


Author's Reply:
Thanks, Trevor. Strange, you say, but it's true, we don't see
'the circle of huts,
the smouldering fires and the men with
spears setting off to hunt for food',
but relatively speaking, our past is not that far away. We should be able to see them.

I used to enjoy sharing this poem with some of my pupils and waiting to see if it got a reaction. It always manages to 'blow my mind' but I would say that, wouldn't I?
Regards, Gerald.

sweetwater on 24-01-2015
At the Station
I don't know if I have 'seen' this correctly but It made me think of space and time, like H.G.Wells time machine, and all the different lifetimes carried on in the same place. Past and future co existing. But even if I'm wrong I still really enjoyed reading this poem. Gave me much to think about. Sue x

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, Sue - much appreciated. I'm pleased my poem got you thinking about time and space. I think what got me writing it was the simple notion that in terms of the age of the earth and the length of time that mankind has been around, the history of the last few thousand years is still very tantalisingly close and yet it evades us.
Gerald

Bozzz on 24-01-2015
At the Station
Ha Gerald, what of the thoughts of those in the express - that people on the platforms are toy men and women who have been waiting there for years for a train to stop? You are travelling on a toy railway anyway - it's all a mirage and you are going to end up where you started from - I enjoyed the ride and must have seen you waiting in hope. Great imaginings and thank you...David

Author's Reply:
Thank you for commenting, David. Much appreciated. I'm pleased it triggered some imaginings of your own.
Gerald

Mikeverdi on 25-01-2015
At the Station
Agree with the other comments, it makes you think. I'm sure your pupils must have debated this with glee!
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. It was a little creative writing class I was running. I seem to remember most were puzzled but there was one in particular whose face lit up as though he'd seen a vision - not sure if it was the right vision but something in the poem did the trick for him, so I was well chuffed, as they say.
Cheers, Gerald.


Reading 'L'Avare' for A'level (posted on: 19-01-15)
Topical - castigat ridendo mores = satire corrects customs. Does it?

Defining comedy extends into break . In the playground the fat one they call Elmer is wriggling against the wall again, inviting, enjoying jibes, punches, spit . Funny, of course it's funny - Molire castigat ridendo mores - students quote the introduction for proof. Harpagon, such meanness, such cruelty to his children, servants, horses, deserves to lose his chre cassette of cash, and crack up, as if widowed again, to hang the world, and then himself. His howls of anguish turn up the laughter, uncomfortably, despite ourselves. Molire, despite himself, is castigating less the mores, more the man, the more he's hooked on money, his love, his fix, the more the misfit, the more he's writhing against the public wall of his private hell, the louder the hoots of derision, to send them away laughing, because comedy has a happy ending, students say, glad of a break. Molire 16221673), was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature. Among Molire's best-known works is 'L'Avare' ('The Miser.')

Archived comments for Reading 'L'Avare' for A'level
Mikeverdi on 19-01-2015
Reading LAvare for Alevel
You write so well Gerald, even thought at times I have no idea of the subject ...I enjoy it! I will need to look up the background on this one.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. Moliere's definitely worth reading.
Gerald.

Bozzz on 20-01-2015
Reading LAvare for Alevel
Enjoyed this piece too without full understanding. Though I did not take Latin at A-level I am prone to same pretensions.
Have you read Matt Harvey's poem "Let them speak Latin" in his book "Where earwigs dare"? Very witty on the subject. Nothing from the Mersey. I meant my Grandfather's house, not your family home. Good wishes, David

Author's Reply:
Not seeing why you mention Latin. This was a French lesson I was teaching in 1988. A boy was being bullied outside and onlookers were laughing. My students said Moliere's miser hanging himself when he lost his hoard of money was funny - why? Partly because they thought it must be funny because Moliere wrote comedies and they thought comedies were meant to be funny. Partly because of castigat ridendo mores which the editor had put in his introduction. I am reminded of the time when I was hit by an apple hurled by a mindless pupil. Most of the children around me thought it was funny. The same as if I'd slipped on banana skin. i don't know many parts of L'pool, just the river front, the shops, the Philharmonic and the library. Thanks for reading, David. Perhaps I'll give the Ecbo a nudge. Gerald


Aubade (posted on: 12-01-15)


Sadly, I imagine you will wake, too, because the silence has changed colour, the way, fluting across a murky water, a swan's light may gently startle you, gleaming through the curtains of your eyes. Wake, though with the softest of violence, snow has played you a nocturne of lightest down, quilted you in symphonic hush, mesmerised you in your sleep. A captive audience, your fidgeting legs are swathed, your cough stilled, by chords of white you are laid to rest at every cadence. Oblivious to the cold auditorium, your lulled capillary thoughts are tingling, pleasantly beating time. Wake, and they are jerking the pendulum, flailing, frantically rattling the case; and you are shivering in your bed - horribly alone, except for you, and the Arctic waste to face.

Archived comments for Aubade
Mikeverdi on 12-01-2015
Aubade
Oh yes Gerald, back on form for me with this one...
"Because the silence has change colour"
Love that line 🙂
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. Sharing this again from last year, nothing new happening.
Gerald

Supratik on 14-01-2015
Aubade
Will go with Mike... 'silence has changed colour' is a very touching line. The last couplet also takes your breath away! A great read!

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Supratik.
Gerald

Gothicman on 15-01-2015
Aubade
How enviable I am, Gerald, of your fantastic talent, of which this poem is another good example. Got a pleasant surprise when I googled "Aubade", lots of beautiful ladies in their undies! You wouldn't lie guarding/observing them sleeping at dawn for long dressed like that! I expect it's about your crocuses, but beautifully written as usual with some very fine lines. Ted Hughes would be proud of this one! Great writing as usual. Another favourite, thanks.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Another poem from my rapidly depleting pre-1995 stock. I had no idea 'Aubade' had such arousing connotations. I was lucky with this - it got published in 'Outposts' in 1990. Since then it's had varying responses online since. Pleasing to see it's found favour on tbis posting. Thanks for your appreciative comment, Trevor.

Mikeverdi on 16-01-2015
Aubade
I've come back to this one Gerald, read again... and given you a Nom. I hope you approve.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Oh, thank you very much, Mike, for coming back nominating this. It's one of my own favourites. It was out of testing times.
Best wishes,
Gerald.


Clearance (posted on: 05-01-15)


Airtight. No sound. No Is that you? above the TV turned up too loud. No feeble getting up to proffer hand or kiss. No shuffling round the assembly-kit of treasured things that made a home. No ghosts of chirpy whistling days with windows that breathed, seasons strolling in for a chat, grubby knees at open doors, laughter scampering up and down the stairs. No fidgeting between naps, no turning a blurred gaze from the incomprehensible street to cross-examine the other chair. No sobbing into the night. Interminable night, fingering things, like a dealer, leaving a smell.

Archived comments for Clearance
Mikeverdi on 05-01-2015
Clearance
So much pain wrapped up these words Gerald, I felt it; and that is all I ask of poetry. I loved it.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. Pleased you liked it enough to add it to your favourites.
Regards, Gerald.

Supratik on 05-01-2015
Clearance
I think the poem is obviously trying to say something painful. It's okay. Keep writing Nemo. Yours, Supratik

Author's Reply:
It could be thinking of the end of a family member's life; it could be me thinking of my own end, or just how it is for so many of us. Don't you agree?
Thanks for commenting,
Gerald.

Supratik on 05-01-2015
Clearance
Yes Nemo, it could be thinking of all that you said and something even more. I don't have issues with poems such as these, but there are lines that are obviously trying to screech poetry, as though being desperate, e.g. L3 and L4...according to me should have come much later when the atmosphere is sufficiently created, but at the end of it all, it's poet's choice. Best. Supratik





P.S your language in the comment seems desperate ... Nemo....it's quite pointless getting attached to comments by readers...just concentrate on your poems... all the best...Cheers!

Author's Reply:
Thanks for your last comment which I have given some hefty consideration, Supratik. Some people get very shirty when someone suggests changes to their poem but I won't, honest. You see, I see a progression in the poem - the bereaved son enters his deceased parents' house, completely emptied and awaiting sale. He expects to hear someone call out 'Is that you?' He remembers the ill health suffered in their last years and then one being left to carry on alone. He remembers living there ....

Chew on 05-01-2015
Clearance
I really enjoyed this. I read it twice. I enjoyed the flow. Lines 16-18, I could almost hear the laughter and the sound of feet on the stairs. Such atmosphere to this piece, full of pain and loss. I did feel it has a nice counterpoint, in that the things lost are full of memories which are good. It speaks, to me (you could have intended differently), of a full life lived. That contrast really makes it stand out in my opinion.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Chew. I'm pleased you liked my little poem.
Regards, Gerald.

e-griff on 06-01-2015
Clearance
I thought this was a complete and successful poem. It conveyed the situation, often indirectly, which is what a good poem should do. The only thing that didn't quite work for me was 'smell' but that's entirely personal I guess.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, John. Sorry 'smell' - my favourite bit - didn't do the business for you - the nasty lingering after-effect left by death in an empty house.... All in the mind.
Gerald

ValDohren on 06-01-2015
Clearance
Very poignant - think "is that you" should have quotes around it. Excellent read.
Val

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Val. Strictly speaking Is that you? should be inside inverted commas and I have used them in postings of this elsewhere but I wanted it to be come across as a memory of one of the many missing items from the emptied house rather than actual speech.
Gerald.

franciman on 06-01-2015
Clearance
Gerald, this is great poetry. Evocative, emotive and thought provoking. What can I say? It sings - loud and proud, standing head and shoulders over most of its contemporaries. And No, I'm neither intoxicated nor delirious!
Cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Favourited and nominated - wow! - I'm so pleased this poem has found so much approval. Many thanks, Jim.
Best wishes, Gerald.


December Promenade (posted on: 29-12-14)


It's only a few days since Christmas, but after the joy comes a niggling sort of ache, here by the sea, with this lonely reveller of festive darkness, shedding needles of rain and a glitter of shivers along the promenade; with this foul-mouthed wind staggering off the tide at closing-time, fetching home a surly catch of staleness from the sea. Stale too, all along the front, the wind's accumulation: gusts of greasy smells, clattering gangs of rusty cans and whispering cronies of crumpled wrappers that lour and loll or lobby locked arcades. And staler still, scumming off the stranded year, and all the years beneath, the skins, the smells of other selves, the damaged, discarded selves - like canisters of waste discharging at sea, corrosive stuff, irradiating, blanching the blood of this resort all hunched up and left to play alone in winter rooms in a fug of malaise, with a baffled buzz of wings on the glass, a whiff of death behind the curtain. Look! All the lights are wistful spies, what-the-butlering for a glimpse of meaning in our lives. See, now they peer around the bay, nudge-nudging from window to window for the secrets up her skirts, as holly-spangled Hesper tinsels down the sky, and sidles over here, for warmth, to you and me!

Archived comments for December Promenade
Mikeverdi on 29-12-2014
December Promenade
There is no intro, so I can only guess at the thoughts behind this. My thoughts are that its brilliantly written, the lay out works for me. I would know more Gerald, is this a stab at something or someone?
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Mike. I'm hesitating to provide an intro for this. I'll PM you.
Regards, Gerald. Intro now provided.

e-griff on 29-12-2014
December Promenade
It's difficult not to seem mean about a meaningful poem like this. You may not be interested in technique and simply want to say what you say. If so, forgive my comment.

This is one of those good poems which, for me, would be improved by condensing it. In other words, use half the number of verses and distill the meaning into those. I think it would become more powerful. But if you don't want that, for God's sake don't. No wish to interfere.

Best, johnG

Author's Reply:
Thanks for your thoughts, john... 'Too many notes, Mr Mozart.' I have written some short, pithy poem-bites but this one has to stay long and indulge my meandering surreal leaps of thought. No offence taken and none meant, but your comment has led me to spot an error in line 20 which in all the years and on all the sites where I've been posting this no-one has ever pointed out - I've corrected it now. Thanks again.
Gerald

sweetwater on 01-01-2015
December Promenade
Giving life a good kicking here I felt, shouting all resentment and bitterness to the winds. All the flotsam and jetsam of a closed down winter sea shore, and a knife sharp pain of your own maybe, don't know if I am correct but that's how it came over to me. I liked the layout, different, which gave the poem even greater impact. Wishing you all the best for 2015. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
That's a good response to my poem, thanks, Sue. Yes, written at a difficult time not helped by the wretched weather on a New Year's Eve trip to the sea-side in 1985.

All the best to you for the New Year.

Gerald


Something You Said (posted on: 08-12-14)


You said "Enjoy what you do." Is that one of those valedictory imperatives like "Have a nice day" somebody coined without realising that they are extremely difficult if not impossible to act upon? There are many things that I do but I am not able to enjoy them even though I am ordered to do so. Even if I order myself to enjoy them, that does not do the trick either. Moreover, if I seek out activities I have previously enjoyed, that does not necessarily enable me to recapture the sense of enjoyment I previously felt. You may argue that "Enjoy what you do" is a truncated form of "I hope you enjoy what you do" and that with the passage of time and to facilitate speed of delivery, the "I hope" has been omitted and left as 'understood.' The suggestion that you meant "I hope you enjoy what you do" may be well intentioned but I can't be certain as there is a sarcastic undertone in this expression which implies that you yourself do not enjoy what I do. Anyway, mind how you go. Have a nice week. See you later.
Archived comments for Something You Said
Mikeverdi on 08-12-2014
Something You Said
HaHa! I think 'ones' glass is half empty Gerald.
Mike


Author's Reply:
Half full or half empty, which ever. What I do know is, half a pint's already gone.
Cheers, Gerald.

Rab on 11-12-2014
Something You Said
Bad day? I think we need another category, Rant. I'd do one a week.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting on this, Rab. Bad day? No. It's not a rant. It's an analytical response to 'Enjoy what you do.' How are we meant to take it? Thinking about it led to various thoughts. As do a lot of expressions we address to people, including 'Have a nice day.' How the hell can we ensure that we will have a nice day? Please let me know why you thought this was a rant.

Rab on 12-12-2014
Something You Said
Okay, it doesn't really read like a rant, but it's the sort of thing I've been known to indulge in a minor rant about in the past. I thought I detected a touch of annoyance in the opening question, but in itself the piece is, as you say, more analytical than ranty.

I still think a new category, Rant, would be a good idea though. It might be beneficial to the mental health of UKAs by encouraging them to get things off their chests!

Author's Reply:


Everyone Remembers a Good Teacher (posted on: 08-12-14)


One of the Forgotten Army. Classics was hard, coming back. Stood the seniors at the rear, his beady eyes smoothed the rows, Elvis after Elvis. March fifty-six. Cross-legged first-years on the yard, you and I, not yet friends, holding it there, on command. The way he got silence, the stillness when he sat down, third from the Head, the broken window side, and the camera raked us like a gun. Dic, duc, fer, fac, second person singular active, irregular imperatives. 'Dick's duck had fur on its fack', he'd snap. Lest we forget. Regula, regulae, feminine, the ruler, of the ruler the edge, sharp, two crisp applications to taut cheeks for each mistake. Enjoyed that? Yes sir. Semper et in aeternum. The Pax Romana that got results. Watch out, Joe's coming, a boy would hiss, like his jailed Japs, smarting after the bomb. Yes, Joe's coming, he'd roar, exploding the room, sending shock waves of loud conjugations - amo, amas, amat from his empire to the far ends of the school. Dinner-hours, we helped him get his Greek back, you and I: Odyssean trips on mugs of tea. Breathed the smoke in his lungs, the closest we ever got. Read 'Goodbye to All That', he said, and gave us his vademecum.

Archived comments for Everyone Remembers a Good Teacher
Mikeverdi on 08-12-2014
Everyone Remembers a Good Teacher
Another wonderful write Gerald, your right about the teachers as well, I only had one that was that good; sadly not for long enough.
Mike

Author's Reply:
A very influential teacher was Jack Taylor. Sadly missed. Thanks for commenting, Mike.
Gerald

Gothicman on 08-12-2014
Everyone Remembers a Good Teacher
Brilliant, Gerald, superb construction and content, you at your usual best, using old professional knowledge and experience, one for favourites.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Trevor. Thanks.
Gerald

pommer on 09-12-2014
Everyone Remembers a Good Teacher
Great ,Gerald,a reminder of the days at school and at uni.Really well constructed.I had a favourite French teacher,whose first word of the very first lesson was:Merde.

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Peter. I wrote this thirty years ago for my best friend - the fellow pupil who also enjoyed this teacher's lessons. Unfortunately he has now had a stroke and is unlikely to read this. Such is life.
Gerald


Usherette (posted on: 05-12-14)


Between ballets, ends must meet. Hair tight in a bun, feet in the first position, she directs us to our seats, pointing with the wing of a swan, fingers trailing like feathers. Margot at the movies, perfecting her posture after closing the doors. She'd love to see the film, she's heard so much about it, a demure smile as we leave, her slender neck inclining as she dies.

Archived comments for Usherette
deadpoet on 05-12-2014
Usherette
There's so much in this poem Nemo- I loved it-

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it. Thanks, Pia.

Gothicman on 08-12-2014
Usherette
Another excellent poem, Gerald. So many employed in cinema live their lives as dramatic film episodes, even the kiosk seller, the doorman, and the usherette, and even while seldom seeing the films. But dedicated to their art, the art that supports them, they remain. Wonderful character description.
Trevor


Author's Reply:
Hi Trevor! So pleased you liked this piece, written last year after a visit to the Barbican to see 'Blue Jasmine.' Many thanks for the nomination.
Gerald


The Bubble (posted on: 24-11-14)


Of every dream that could haunt me, this one insinuates irresistibly, like a bubble that might waft across our summer garden and, disconcerting chattering cat or frantic dog, skim the children's straining fingertips, swirl past your sleeping face, and beam its supernoval menace on me, on me . This shimmering, hollow dream drifts into a fitful sleep, eclipsing companion considerations, to hold my gaze with its power to chill a smile or cloud an eye; for a brief eternity, it fixes its stippled stare on me, on me . then, as I switch on the lamp to face it down, it is gone!

Archived comments for The Bubble
Mikeverdi on 24-11-2014
The Bubble
Clearly, the day the light goes on and it's still there....your dead!
Mike

Author's Reply:
Dead, er, yes. Something to look forward to. Thanks for commenting, Mike. Much appreciated. Hits and comments are well down lately.

Gerald

Gothicman on 27-11-2014
The Bubble
This is a beautifully written piece, Gerald. Love these descriptive observations of simple things that can stir the imagination and open up personal connections. Like the opening and the structure. This a new poem, recently written? Worthy of nomination, I think.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Many thanks for the nomination, Trevor. I entered it in the Scottish National Poetry Competition in 1985. I was invited to attend the award ceremony in Edinburgh. Just as well I couldn't attend - it was only a runner-up.

Gerald


Draft White Paper (posted on: 21-11-14)


In line with our currency and our weights and measures, Her Majesty's Government, being a progressive and modernising government, proposes to decimalise time, thus ridding our society of another legacy of a previous administration which has hindered productivity for far too long and contributed immeasurably to our national debt which we have committed ourselves to clearing in the near future, rather than pass it on to successive governments as has happened to us. This future would be brought forward by the adoption of our proposals. It is proposed therefore that there would be 10 hours in a day, 100 minutes in an hour, 100 seconds in a minute. Days would have numbers, thus dispensing with the pointless and expensive recording of names of days and months. Religious festivals will be redesignated as multi-faith-cum-secular occasional holidays and reassigned to evenly spaced intervals throughout the year. They would have the same function as the bank holidays which they would replace. The advantages of the decimal system is that non-productive weekends would disappear, the average working day would feel shorter, approximately 3.3 hours long, (which would be rounded up to everyone's advantage as happened with decimal currency) and people will need less sleep, at the most 3.3 hours for hard-working people, which could easily be rounded down, freeing up more time for leisure in the government leisure centres which we propose to build to re-kick-start the economy and which would replace the already antiquated (mindful as we are of the strength of resentment and disproportionate rioting in some communities) unemployment day centres. Those people at present designated job-seekers would be offered employment in the leisure centres and paid the national minimum wage instead of the unearned allowance they receive at present. Service personnel returning from abroad as a result of our strategic withdrawal from previous commitments to maintaining world-order would be offered supervisory and custodial positions in the centres. Foreign governments would be invited to adopt the decimal time system, as they did our Greenwich Meantime, since we command quite deservedly, as then, worldwide respect, to avoid the necessity for potentially dangerous conversions from one system to the other. It is proposed also that we should dispense with the arbitrary and divisive dating of time from the birth of the increasingly less popular Jesus Christ. The first year of the new system would begin at 0 ADT, making the present year 35 ADT, (35 Anno Dominae Thatcher.)
Archived comments for Draft White Paper
Mikeverdi on 21-11-2014
Draft White Paper
Brilliant...I love it! ADT HaHa!
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks Mike. Pleased it amused you.
Gerald

Bozzz on 21-11-2014
Draft White Paper
Hi there Gerald - great cynics think alike. Good fun, well done. Bin there, done that - see below!
Adventure in time

Frequency
is time
disguised
as life.
The obelisk,
its daily shadow
man’s first clock.
Twelve times two in Egypt,
twenty four a Fleming choice,
thank God no French
were there to metricate.
A ten-hour day, just think
how awful that would be,
arise at three, take lunch at five,
go dine at eight and bed at nine,
not hard to see the world in steep decline.
No village chime mid-afternoon tolls three
nor honey still available for tea.
When grandpa’s clock strikes 5.833,
small wonder that the terrified mouse would flee.

David June 2014


Author's Reply:
Hi David. I wrote this piece in ADT 33 when my blood was starting to boil at all the nonsense that was going on. And now it's getting worse. I enjoyed your clever sundial shadow piece. Sorry I missed it in June. Must have had my head stuck up somewhere.
Regards, Gerald


Dubbing (posted on: 17-11-14)


And later on, returning home after another of our walks, re-defining myself with a turn of a key - someone who's forever framed in a doorway, forever re-locating himself behind a door - what if, removing the dog's lead, I hear someone playing a piano, am I somewhere someone else, patron or king in salon or court, or just myself, slipping out of time? I listen: the dead pianist, back turned, is pouring out, drawing out, the way they do in middle movements, modulating so many forms of pain. The andante ends with a click, silent as a scythe. I turn cassettes and continue copying, tape A onto tape B, allegro ma non troppo. I see one of me settling into a chair, improvising, copy upon copy.

Archived comments for Dubbing
Mikeverdi on 17-11-2014
Dubbing
This may not be for everyone Gerald, but it's for me; I love it. 'The andante ends with a click, silent as a scythe' Perfect:)
I hope others enjoy this piece as much as me.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Mike. One from my stock of old ones.
Gerald

Gothicman on 17-11-2014
Dubbing
Yes, our routines and daily habits are us just dubbing our lives over and over again. Difficult to avoid though? I imagine you as being like Eric Satie, living in a triangular shaped attic room, ten flights of stairs up, cat food in sack carrier bag.....Good poem, but very sad!

Trevor

Added later: I do hope your reply will not play the pathos card again, Gerald!

Author's Reply:
I like the reference to Eric Satie. I'll have to read about him. This is another poem from the last century when a first line could take me on a journey and interesting sights would be visible from the window. Meanwhile I wait for the next first line to drop like a letter from a friend thudding onto the doormat. (Not the friend) Sadly that inspirational friend has had a stroke and will write no more.
Thanks for commenting, Trevor.
Gerald


Reading 'Ballade des Pendus' (posted on: 14-11-14)


Removed for ewvision (Franois Villon 1431 - 1463?)

Archived comments for Reading 'Ballade des Pendus'
Mikeverdi on 14-11-2014
Reading Ballade des Pendus
Well written...but I now have to look it all up; I need to know 🙂
Another great piece Gerald.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. Enjoy your research. Not much is known about Francois Villon but he must have been an interesting character.
Gerald

Gothicman on 15-11-2014
Reading Ballade des Pendus
Yes, Gerald, another fine poem, again with the "bleeding' French" ending Hahaha! Well-written and a joy to read. (Must read Ballade des Pendus!)
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Well, Trevor, have you read Ballade des Pendus? I'd been brooding on how to get Villon out of my system for a couple of weeks and now it's done. It's like the fascination some of us have for medieval altar-pieces, Giotto and the like. Thanks for reading my poems.
Gerald

deadpoet on 16-11-2014
Reading Ballade des Pendus
Oh yes this has made me very inquisitive. I'll have to look him up. I can relate to your feeling of wanting to get him out of your system somehow and this is a fine tribute- well done. Such a pleasure to read a well crafted poem with lots of body in it.

Author's Reply:
Pia, where have you been all this time? Good to see you back if you're going to read my poems and give me such a boost! It would be good if my poem made people have look at Villon's poems. I'm sure he'd appreciate it.
Gerald

deadpoet on 16-11-2014
Reading Ballade des Pendus
here is some info on Villon

http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/fran%C3%A7ois-villon

here are his poems
http://www.poemhunter.com/fran-ois-villon/poems/

I didn't find Ballade des Pendus??? Great poetry- thank goodness it's been conserved.

Pia
xx

Author's Reply:

Ionicus on 16-11-2014
Reading Ballade des Pendus
My knowledge and appreciation of French Literature does not go back that far and I did not know this particular poet before reading your poem. Naturally I had to look him up, like your other correspondents, and also found the 'Ballade des Pendus' in the original language and with an English translation. Here for Pia's benefit is the link

http://medieval.ucdavis.edu/20C/Villon2.html

Thanks for bringing Villon (was he really a villain?) to our attention with your well crafted piece.

Best, Luigi

Author's Reply:
Thanks,Luigi. Villon, famous for 'Ou sont les neiges d'antan?' was a thief and a murderer, condemned at least twice to be hanged. He had friends in high places who got him off.
Gerald.


Memo Re. Your Trip to Normandy (posted on: 07-11-14)


Bayeux's a bit heavy; suggest you leave it for the last day of your stay. Suggest allow whole morning for queuing toilets essential on arrival and getting in and out of the Tapestry Museum; hire headphones for grope-control. Follow with organised sunbathing in the cathedral grounds plenty of bins for discarded packed lunches with junior member of staff, the vegetarian, while rest of you have your last meal without the kids. Conclude afternoon with a short drive to the Muse Mmorial toilets inside the front door tickets needed for half-group only; first pupils through will do the lot in two minutes and pass their tickets on. So, a few minutes in all plus a pee, leaves ample time for the group photo: taking out the Panzer tendency at this point for worksheets to fly away then cross the road to the War Cemetery the duty-free can wait review the parade of eloquent standing stones even cynics like me, herding children back to the coach, grant futility some purpose if, translating on the memorial arch, ''Nos a Gulielmo victi victoris patriam liberavimus'', we aren't patching together and embroidering. (Nos a Gulielmo victi victoris patriam liberavimus = We who were conquered by William have liberated his country)

Archived comments for Memo Re. Your Trip to Normandy
Mikeverdi on 11-11-2014
Memo Re. Your Trip to Normandy
Excellent!
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks Mike. A repost from last year while I wait for something new to come along.
Gerald


Woolworth's Stamps and I (posted on: 03-11-14)


In those days there was snow when the postman trudged up the path on Christmas Day in Birkenhead with parcels in brown paper from aunts I didn't know in Gloucester and I was a Master Somebody they didn't know. The stamp album I dated 1954 soon bulged with stamps on stamp-hinges tastily licked and open-mouth tweezered into the squares, their perforated edges frontiers no stamp must cross, no territory invade. In those days I had to write thank you letters to the aunts I didn't know. Thank you for the stamp album. It is very nice. I am a regular customer in Woolworths. And I now know the capital of every country in the world, and countries that no longer exist, countries that have torn themselves apart or been torn apart. I could have added that. Was the album from you, the smiley Auntie Dorothy I stayed with for a day with the plums and no kids and the Uncle Win who had a squeezy pump for his asthma, who said take a deep breath, that's a healthy country smell? Was it his asthma that made you shock us when you killed yourself? Or perhaps you sent it, the maiden Auntie Kathleen, the youngest who kept the house and who had to do the caring for the drinker I didn't know and won't forget I met him for seconds in a Gloucester street. This is your grandfather, said my dad. You might have had photos by your bedside of your nieces and nephews you would one day leave a thousand pounds to. Or a photo of an airman, a sailor, a soldier, who'd left you longing, who'd not returned, no-one ever said. Postage stamps with bloody histories, from Germany, Poland, Austria, Russia, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Japan. Heads of dictators, kings and queens, emperors, their backsides licked and posted on letters from the dead to the dead, the bombed, the gassed, the tortured, the slave-laboured, the uprooted, the blown to pieces. It's gone, of course, the thousand pounds, but not you, not you, whichever aunt you were, wrapped with love and posted with my DNA bank of millions.

Archived comments for Woolworth's Stamps and I
sweetwater on 03-11-2014
Woolworths and I
Fascinating poem, a joy to read all those memories, I remember the heady Christmas days of excitingly wrapped brown parcels, from barely known relatives. Sue.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Sue, I'm pleased you liked it.
Gerald

Mikeverdi on 04-11-2014
Woolworths and I
I truly loved reading this Gerald, your dips into the past, your past, fill me with such nostalgia. Most of the things you write of could be me. The stamp albums I remember well. Our world was so much different than today; I will not say better as I'm not sure it was. I paused today on Plymouth Hoe while walking my dogs, to pay respects to a brother I never knew I had; he was one of the few.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike, I'm pleased you liked this poem. It has been a long time coming, after a non-productive few months. As a grandfather of four, I appreciate what it means to have this role. I didn't know my grandparents, the grandmothers were already dead before I was born and my grandfathers lived too far away. Meeting one of them so briefly still seems very weird, and shrouded in mystery. So are the lives of my aunts.
Gerald

pommer on 04-11-2014
Woolworths Stamps and I
I really enjoyed this one Gerald.It brought back so many memories of my life.The excitement of having a new stamp from somewhere you never heard of, looking frantically for the place in an old atlas.Happy days.I often look at old postcards,some pre-1914.What history they tell us.Well done. Peter.

Author's Reply:
Pleased you enjoyed this, Peter. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
Gerald

Gothicman on 05-11-2014
Woolworths Stamps and I
Excellent poem, Gerald, your Muse has returned in force. Fine ending too holding the running theme of blood relations all together. You have a special talent for historical nostalgic authenticity written in uncluttered crystal english. A pleasure to read....Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Trevor. The muse returned briefly but didn't behave the way I would have liked. The poem was meant to be about those packets of stamps you could get in Woolworths but I got steered down or up the family path. Another time Perhaps. Next it's going to be the turn of Francois Villon if I can get the angle right.
Gerald


Brief Encounter (posted on: 31-10-14)
In a French school. Lyon 1964

Six months after my arrival, the directeur emerged from his office, doing his rounds, I assumed. He met me in the corridor. 'Vous tes de la maison, monsieur?' I was the assistant d'anglais, I explained, holding out my hand. He clamped it lightly with moist finger tips, and told me the Lyonais were cold people, adding, 'C'tait difficile pendant la guerre.' Whereupon he adjusted his trilby, minced out of the building like Hercule Poirot, and I never saw him again.

Archived comments for Brief Encounter
Gothicman on 02-11-2014
Brief Encounter
Gerald, a fine, descriptive poem telling a slice-of-life story, and an interesting read. Don't personally like couplet lines like this; would prefer it laid out á la IYP or Chant fashion, as one tight structure, all lines together, which keeps it all integral and cohesive, leaves the reader still chewing on a tasty morsel after reading! A Vichy moment, enjoyed! Trevor

Author's Reply:
Glad you liked it, Trevor. One from a few years ago. Just for you I'll remove the gaps and see what it looks like. I usually aim to avoid bid chunks of print.
Gerald


Aprs Trois Ans (posted on: 31-10-14)
Homage to the French poet who described a garden he revisited after three years - a case of why rather than so what

Paul Verlaine pushed open the creaking garden gate. Dew glistened on the flowers in the morning sunshine. Everything was familiar, he said: the humble vine creeping round the arbour, the rattan chairs, the fountain's silvery murmur, the old aspen muttering to itself, roses fluttering and lilies standing proud in the breeze; the larks, all recognisable again, even the Veleda statue, still standing, at the far end of the path, its plaster flaking as before, vulnerable, in the insipid scent of mignonette, and ... nothing had changed. As if I would ever believe that! And yet his time-arresting voice stilled my breathing, like Barber's Adagio.

Archived comments for Aprs Trois Ans
Supratik on 31-10-2014
Après Trois Ans
Splendid Nemo! Verlaine is one of my favourite poets. Especially his poems in Sagesse, Les poètes maudits speak volumes. Your reference to Samuel Barber's Adagio reminded me of a lot of things I thought I forgot. In fact, it's after a long time, I thought of Verlaine! Thanks! I re-read Après trois ans on the net after a long long time. 'Nothing had changed'...Great write Nemo! Supratik


Author's Reply:
Many thanks for your comments, Supratik. This is a bit of a cheeky poem, more Verlaine than me but I thought he deserved attention being drawn to him.
Regards, Gerald.

Gothicman on 02-11-2014
Après Trois Ans
Brilliant, Gerald, you're back on form, love the modernist, Verlaine, (Film use has spread music's popularity, but also misplaced/defaced classical music, apart from The Platoon, there's the lesser injustice of Death In Venice and Mahler)...This is you at your best, fine ending giving the poem a personal angle, but also the right atmosphere to both poet and composer named. Trevor

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Trevor. I'm pleased this poem has been noticed this time. It was completely blanked last year. Not sure how legit I've been, using Verlaine's images like this but I was aiming for the getting the ending over.
Gerald


Cut Off (posted on: 27-10-14)


Moved away but continued our conversations in my head occasional letters and a batch of impenetrable sonnets punctuating half a century since school saved him up for my retirement drive up there carry on where we left off his voice stumbling on the phone who are you of course I remember you shouting at another stroke patient to get out of his way leave the school photograph in the loft with the grief and the sonnets

Archived comments for Cut Off
Mikeverdi on 28-10-2014
Cut Off
Can we ever go back Gerald...sometimes, but not often. I haven't seen my family in sixteen years; too late now I think.
Nice writing again.
Mike

Author's Reply:
I'm having to come to terms with the fact that this is a my best friend from school who now is, in a sense, dead.

Thanks for commenting, Mike.

Gerald

ValDohren on 28-10-2014
Cut Off
Very sad and poignant Gerald. The advancing years so often bring heartache of one sort or another. Beautifully expressed in simple understandable terms. Great job.
Val x

Author's Reply:
The simplest language I could muster, Thanks for commenting, Val.
Gerald

Gothicman on 29-10-2014
Cut Off
A well.written and constructed poem, Gerald, a sad poem from your life written in concise form, may hopes of increased or new found companionship on retiring are often denied from happening by all the unexpected changes that affect those plans. Some plans recoverable, others like here with permanent changes at source are not...Trevor

Author's Reply:
Yes, you're right. Are you retired, Trevor? Retired for three years, I'm not finding retirement as enjoyable as some make out it to be. This my first 'poem' for six months and is of depressingly impoverished style which I hope not to be unable to surpass if ever the germ of another poem comes along.
Gerald

stormwolf on 29-10-2014
Cut Off
Hi Gerald,
Seems a while since I read you and this poem shows what I have been missing. It suggests rather than tells which gives it so much more power and really gets the sad message across.
Just a really good poem
Alison x

Author's Reply:
Hi Alison. I'm pleased this poem has found favour as stylistically it's not the way I write, being a daub I dashed off to catch the post. Good to hear from you again. Thank you for commenting.
Gerald

Gothicman on 30-10-2014
Cut Off
Yes, half-retired now, trying to get someone to slot in and take over so I can finally call it a day. With my broad and varied interests i love having more time, never time enough. Don't worry Gerald, you have a fantastic talent for especially understated poetry which is mostly quite brilliant; that's why it doesn't come easy, but it will, for the Muse usually just pops up in waves, so you only have to wait, and we too. Get out walking in fresh air to get inspiration, and take a pencil and notepad with you and jot down themes and ideas and even some good lines that might come to mind, then try and develop them at home later... Trevor

Author's Reply:
Hi Trevor, I find having masses of free time doesn't mean you have masses of free time because there's so much to do and there's always 'chores' getting in the way. We don't have servants or even a woman who 'does', not being as rich as you make out. In fact with our family commitments, we are quite poor. Don't know about this 'fantastic talent.' Managed a longish poem today, elements of which have been waiting to pop out for months, so I'll probably post it for Monday. Gerald


Not for Discussion (posted on: 24-10-14)
Poem

When she fell ill, I told him the same day. It's terrible, it's terrible these words were all he said or could find to say, man to man, over the fence, and two yards' gap landed me another planet away. We play the pat posturings of pretence: Christmas card for card, my proffered spanner at his garage door, his squeezed-out comments on the weather the lips are kept thinner, and it's a brick wall now, not a flimsy fence. A man tanked in double glass, chubbed indoors, cavity-valiumed with TV, he's wired for all-round bliss; hermetic dcors admit no fear, keep out What's-his-name who's a real-life reminder of what he ignores. Clearly behind smiles, I'm supposed to hide! Mankind I thought we travelled together: cruising round the sun, a shared cabin-ride? No, a man may ground himself whenever the sensors detect the Invader outside.

Archived comments for Not for Discussion
Bozzz on 25-10-2014
Not for Discussion
A classic on the Brit idea of neighbourliness - best watch the Australian TV version for what is awful at the other extreme! Some clever rhyming my friend. Good write....David

Author's Reply:
Thanks, David. I've done neighbours, got them out of my system. Never want to watch the Aussie thing. My life's too short.
Gerald

sweetwater on 26-10-2014
Not for Discussion
I really enjoyed this, re read it a few times to really understand your meaning, I am rather like the vacuum sealed neighbour, but inside my head, I tend to inwardly not acknowledge anything exists if it scares or upsets me.
I understand how quickly the situation can arise and simple fences become brick walls, and easy friendliness is suddenly forced and uncomfortable.
Great writing. Sue.

Author's Reply:
Thanks Sue. This a poem going back to events in 1982 and not based on anybody in particular, just generally on some people's reaction to our daughter's illness.
Gerald

Gothicman on 26-10-2014
Not for Discussion
Yes, referring to the poem as presented only, maintaining a polite nodding acquaintance is the often sought and used policy between neighbours for various reasons, usually a fine balance kept between overt friendliness and minimum demands and bother level due to close proximity! Not much help when needing moral or emotional support, or empathy and understanding, a friendly ear, when times are tough. Close friends or strangers are often better in these circumstances. Sad poem about how communal life has changed, well-written and so true to type...Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Trevor. This poem was written in 1985. It would be nice to think people wouldn't cross the road to avoid us nowadays.
Gerald


Home Thoughts (posted on: 20-10-14)
Neighbour's kids, thirty years ago

If privilege shared's forfeit repaired, then my searing secret should be aired: for oft I hear the Thump-it Voluntary of Man's New Child and his pulmonary aubade when, bleating like a sheep misled, Britain's future tumbles out of bed. Lusty lungs negate the party wall: detonating tantrums plump their pall of poisoned breath on hopeful risers: my 'nice day' is choked by little blighters soon propelled outdoors by irate hand - always when some gardening I have planned. ''Ello mister'' shakes the flimsy fence, mouthing little else that makes much sense. ''Wotcha mate'' demands attention now; I must stay and answer I know how three neglectful years and mother's pride clobber the neighbour who tries to hide: for, of flying stones, there is no lack; broken toys politely handed back don't prevent the pebble in the eye - will their parents venture out to try? only bedtime halts the fusillade; then begins the wailing serenade

Archived comments for Home Thoughts
sweetwater on 22-10-2014
Home Thoughts
Oh gosh thats depressing and sadly correct. Reminded me of huge estates with low fences and paper walls. So glad I have an eight foot hedge one side and a single older man living the other.
Having said all that I really enjoyed reading this very clever poem. Sue.x

Author's Reply:
Slight exaggeration on my part but some of it's true; fortunately way back in the past now. Thanks, Sue. Pleased you liked it.
Gerald

Mikeverdi on 23-10-2014
Home Thoughts
I'm with Sue on this one Gerald, I lived in a box once; been in old houses since. You paint a bleak picture, but true.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. The house wasn't the problem, after all we all live boxes of sorts, don't we? Nor was it on a huge estate, the sort Sue is reminded of. The problem was the neighbour. (And you get neighbours everywhere, unless we live in splendid isolation.) He was the sort of man who would address his boys as 'Bastard.' We know because one day one of them called over the fence to me, "Hello, bastard.' On another occasion, when I was gardening and hunched over some seedlings, he called out, "Are you doing a poo?' On that happy note, which I didn't include in the poem, cheers, Gerald.


On a School Leavers' Outing (posted on: 13-10-14)


''Are your parents still alive?'' Mary asked, in May 1996. There was a sort of yellowy glow in the light brown sky. The day would be hot and sticky. '' Expect sneezing, wheezing and personal hygiene problems So, let it all hang out,'' twanged the local radio station, before turning the music back up, to jangle and fray, it seemed. We'd been travelling for about half an hour and had another thirty miles or so to go. Baseball cap turned backwards, the tall one called Billy Jones began manfully letting in the M25 to impress the girls, opening sunroofs, until one with rusty catches wrecked his chances. He tried to laugh it off as jeers of 'wanker' gauntleted him back to his seat. It was one of those elderly coaches which, having wasted their youth touring Europe, was no longer quite up to serving England as well as she expected. Before long, no doubt, it would be sent to grunt out its last days ferrying civilisation and guns round Africa, or collapse, overstuffed and oversuckled like a weary sow in the heat of India. You felt the fusty fabric of the seats bore the imprints of the dead and the dying: pensioners packing in their last days; football fans fading away after the final whistle; children who'd gone home for the last time and left themselves on the beach. About to sit their GCSEs in a few days' time, the forty-five Bishops Cross Comprehensive pupils were in no hurry to arrive; nor were they thinking it was better to travel. They'd done travelling. Holidays: they'd seen the world already and it was as boring as being asked to show where they'd been was to be found on a map. As if they could. When Mary asked her question, they were already eating crisps and sweets at nine o'clock in the morning because everybody was eating crisps and sweets at nine o'clock in the morning, while sharing walkmans and tapes with their mates; and marking out their areas with insults about taste in music - and loners. Loners who stuck to their guns and shrivelled behind their shields, or who changed tastes as often as they belched and lashed out with their bottles of Coke to show they weren't loners at all. Soon they'd be swaggering. All forty-five of them, and their mates on the other coaches, and the other schools, they'd all be swaggering. And they'd show us. This was their fifth and final end-of-year trip to Chessington World of Adventures. If they screamed and got frightened, or pretended to, and got soaking wet on the rides, it would be like the falling in and out of love they'd done so often, and would reckon they'd got over and would never remember. And they would make a deliberate point of not remembering this day for the rest of their lives, the best days of which were at this moment being towed, rattling and squeaking, to the breaker's yard. And they wouldn't admit they'd just had the best days of their lives because they didn't agree with what teachers told them. On principle. Looking very summery and agreeably substantial in shorts and a revealing, sleeveless blouse, Mary was a Special Needs assistant who hadn't had the disconcerting pleasure of my company before. She had enveloping warmth and a heady, inexpensive perfume that took thirty years off me as well as any madeleine. She would need, however, to be good at her job to keep a conversation going with me, or someone had tipped her off, I hoped, and supplied her with a set of questions before she got on the coach. For both of us it would be either chat or have an awkward silence. I'd done some professional sitting with the pupils at the back to see they settled down for as long as I could put off having to move forward to appear sociable. As I nervously eased myself onto the side of my seat which was furthest from the expanses of her arm and thigh, I saw she had a newspaper. The Sun. She apologised: ''My son brings it back from his paper-round,'' and I immediately felt less tense: she'd be able to offer me it if we ran out of conversation. Her last question was disconcerting. In successfully dealing with the others: the usual ''Is your wife a teacher?'' and ''How old are your children?'', I had told all and hardly had any secrets left. Suddenly, nodding and smiling were coming so easily that I found I didn't need to counter her questions with my own as she supplied the information herself anyway. Butwere my parents still alive? I had to think quickly, keep my face right, and suppress incipient embarrassment because, like a sack of flour, her contents had settled, producing zones of sticky heat where we touched. Sensing her line of questioning meant she was going to make another revelation about herself, I wondered if I would be able to cope if she wanted to share something unpleasant. Would my hesitant interpersonal skills extend to showing sympathy, to grief-counselling? I was beginning to think I had shown too much empathy for my own good. ''Sit down, please, Billy,'' I snapped. ''I just wanted the driver to play this tape, sir.'' ''Not a good idea, Billy, he's got these road-works to get through.'' In fact, it was more complicated than this; there was the inner me to think about. How long did I have to come up with an answer? I was reeling on three counts. Firstly, she'd hit me with the implication that I looked old enough to have parents who might be on their way, but I'd convinced myself that unless you got ill, or had an accident, or had early death in your genes, you could look after yourself, and choose to go when you wanted, when you'd done all the 'carpe diem' possible. This might entail practically living forever. But we couldn't have too many people thinking like that, could we? There aren't enough Eastbournes in England! So, I didn't want to let that bit of my private person slip out, did I? ''Are you any good at fixing walkmans, sir? My tape's got stuck.'' ''I'll see what I can do, Georgia-Lee. Go and sit down.'' ''Thank you, sir.'' She minced along the catwalk back to her seat. Count number two: there was the business of being upset. Grieving and all that. My headmaster claimed he was sorry when I told him my father had died. Better if he'd asked first how I felt. Funny how people think you'll be upset. My mother didn't seem upset either, not during the short address in the crematorium - there really wasn't much the vicar could say; nor anyone else for that matter: not after the curtains had closed; and not during the trip back to the house at a faster speed, as fast as was respectable because there was only the Social Services job left to do - the one with no one still alive or no one bothering - and then they could knock off early. ''Put your litter in the bags!'' I yelled, retrieving an empty Coke can which had appeared by my feet. The cars followed a route I knew by heart, streets behind Tranmere Rovers' football ground in which I'd played as a child, ridden my bike, grazed my knees - days when I could have started preparing for his death. I could have looked at the tarmac outside number 26 Parkstone Road and said to myself this would be where the shiny black hearse would park and, in the tradition of the well-trained horse-drawn variety, relieve itself with a little puddle of equally shiny black oil. And we'd come out of the house, the three of us, and follow his coffin, to the crematorium. My mother, my sister and myself. And a few friends he didn't have. With miserable faces. But I didn't prepare for it; I went out to play instead - in the fifties - when you had the conspiracies of silence, the whispering, people drawing curtains - iron curtains, spies everywhere. And you took off your cap when hearses went by, you didn't stare, you showed respect - except for the King, of course, when he died - then you could stare. On Movietone. Clearly he didn't matter; it was all right to look at his fancy coffin and all those streets of people with their miserable faces. ''Turn it up, driver!'' A track they approved of began playing. Catafalque, cortge: lovely new words and Miss Groves, whose need to stand you on a chair and slap your legs if you talked in the juniors didn't diminish in the slightest when she became Mrs Baker, could have set us a project on the King's funeral. She could have said ''and don't forget to use any nice words you've learnt.'' The late King George. All that tragedy wasted. She was no better when she announced: ''Christopher's not here today. He's lost his mother.'' She didn't say ''died.'' Perhaps Mrs Baker's still alive, crippled with guilt in a home, realising at last that some of us who hadn't begun to understand what was behind the iron curtains must have thought Christopher was very careless. He was back the next day anyway, in goal as usual; not looking any different, when we stared. ''Shut up, you loner! We don't want to hear that crap!'' Matter-of-fact was what it was, my father's do, like a combination of putting her best hat on and going down town to pay the rates on time and getting someone to take her old cooker away. She wasn't unfeeling; I did see her cry once - when we took our old cat, Peter, after he'd had a bad case of constipation in the coal-shed, to the vets, and she heard the whiff of gas. This time she was past crying. And not because his death was not unexpected - what with all those strokes he'd had and all those blessed trips to the hospital. With her feet. ''Bugger'' and ''swine'' - those were the words she kept using, to his empty chair. Not the vicar, he didn't use words like that - he stuck to saying what vicars say - that death's a wall and one day we'll see what's on the other side. Not him, I hope, I expect my mother thought. Not that I had any reason to think that during the service. They'd always seemed a not too unhappy couple whose rows were reasonably quiet and didn't happen too often, and who didn't embarrass you in front of your mates. ''Bugger'' and ''swine'' - she explained later. My sister was older, she already knew. ''Who are you calling a loner?'' Not upset, not grieving, none of us. Was I meant to tell Mary? That we must have been an odd family? That she was sitting next to a scarred member of this odd family? Someone who had driven two hundred and fifty miles back home to Birkenhead to see his father in hospital, and had to live with the memory of having to sit and watch helplessly while he dribbled and spilt his drink, kicking his restless legs that were snarled up in aertex blankets? A son who, on several ''last'' visits had said ''Goodbye and see you next time, Dad''; and noticed he had started holding onto my hand a little longer each time, his expression somewhere between late affection, panic and balls-up. Was I part of his balls-up? An accident in an air-raid shelter? ''Hard luck, driver! You missed that one!'' Count number three: what to say about my mother? ''How will I ever manage when he's gone?'' over and over in their house always as cold as the winter outside. Did she mean how would she cope with not having him there, getting on her nerves, twiddling knobs on the radio till she screamed at him to stop and the widower next door turned his television up? But she couldn't blame him for the cold. Too house-proud for her own good. Obsessive. She'd never wanted them ''coming in, making messes'' to fit central heating. ''They'd make bits everywhere. Bad enough with him never clearing up.'' Hypothermia. Poor circulation and falling over. I followed her, slowly, upstairs. ''I can't even change a light-bulb. He did everything.'' Fetching the little ladder he kept in the box-room for little jobs - while refusing to take out life-insurance for the big one - I began showing her how to change a light bulb - I thought I'd better change it anyway as she reckoned it was ''about to go'' - I looked down: she had dropped to the floor of the landing, and was screaming and kicking her legs. ''I can't stand it! I can't stand it!'' - a powerful technique she'd used nearly half a century before to stop me blubbing with cold in the bath when there was no hot water, and just an effete paraffin heater, making a stink. ''Billy! Just what do you think you're playing at?'' Say that she's fallen over so often she's gone into a home? ''Never thought my children would put me in an institution!" Say that her numbness one day turned to anger? That she's started walking the streets in her nightdress, wanting to die? That, unable to do so, she lives only to seize unhappiness and turn it into an art-form? That she keeps remembering his last word to her was ''sorry.'' That why he said sorry has been on her mind ever since? That she doesn't know whether it was for dying and leaving her to it, or for his first act of violence when they were newly married and he beat her breasts black and blue? ''The way she kept house,'' he complained, to her parents. Or the other time when he broke her thumb in a fight? During the war. After she called in when she was down town. With my sister. Saw him on his knees. Over ''that bit of a girl'' in his bicycle shop. On the counter, dangling her legs. And all the time she had someone else, but he still kept going out in the evenings, pathetically, ''to stretch his legs'' past her house. Still going years later. Took me with him. A row of houses opposite the Co-op. Or was he just sorry he was making another mess for her clear up? Perhaps I should simply say she keeps wanting her house back, where she was happier when she was lonely, cold and falling over? Or that she pours out tea rather well, for the other residents in the home? ''Sorry, missed what you said,'' contorting my face to mean I couldn't hear very well above the grumbling of the engine. ''I said are your parents still alive?'' ''I lost my father about ten years ago. My mother's in a home. She's got all her faculties, though.'' ''Would you like a sweet, sir, ma'am?'' It was Billy Jones, limiting the damage, his cap turned the other way. ''Er.Thank you very muchVery kind. I'll save it for later.'' ''Not for me, thanks, I'm watching my weight, Billy,'' Mary chuckled, releasing a whiff of perfume as she shook. ''Go on, ma'am.'' ''Oh, all right. Thanks. Now hurry up back to your seat, please.'' Making sure he obeyed, she turned to look over the seat. It was like removing sticking plaster: the adjoining patches of skin coming apart. As her pendulous breasts swung past my ear, I said, ''Mind if I have a quick look at your paper?'' By now Billy had sat down. Mary settled back into her seat and handed me the paper. I looked up a few moments later, and contemplated the road ahead, curving round, almost imperceptibly, in a vast, satisfying circle. Calmly, I set about trying to fix Georgia-Lee's walkman.
Archived comments for On a School Leavers' Outing
Mikeverdi on 14-10-2014
On a School Leavers Outing
This will stay with me Gerald, I'm sorry that it's not getting the attention it deserves; comments are few these days. For me it's a fine piece of work, a sad look at the workings of the mind. I recognise most of the situations, I think you reach an age when such things seem almost normal. How much do you tell strangers, how much do you ask; films have been made on the subject. I loved it Gerald I found it enthralling. Some great lines through out.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. Yes, so few hits and comments lately. I'd dearly love this story to receive more attention as it's one of my most cherished pieces. Ah well.
Gerald

Bonnie on 15-10-2014
On a School Leavers Outing
I thought this was very good - I appreciated the way in which the story is gradually told.


Author's Reply:

Gothicman on 16-10-2014
On a School Leavers Outing
Okej, I've read it now, very enjoyable read, well written with a fine balance with humor, personal relationships, and own past history. 18 years ago, now you've left the teaching profession with retirement. I googled in on 26 Parkstone Road, well kept red and white terraced houses, with car parking line, presumably none of your relations live there now. I liked Mary looking "agreeably substantial". Many really good descriptions and short anecdotes, and typical language use from school kids. Yes, very well written from Mary's first question to her much later repeat of it with all those relevant thoughts between, and then till when her pendulous breasts prompted using the Sun defense strategy! Good one, Gerald. What subjects did you teach? Regards...Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading it, Trevor. Sounds as though you enjoyed it. The house in the story is the one my parents bought for their retirement after selling their shop. Regrettably and scandalously, it had to be sold to pay for my mother's residential care.
Gerald


Departures (posted on: 13-10-14)
Scene on the Thames, unfamiliar to many

I have often stood bemused across the river from fabled Pocahontas' grave, once Defoe country, his brickworks and Crusoe, a place you don't name for fear of ridicule, now a murk-rippled Thames' scummy shoreline. Arriving seagulls shriek in derision; dingy dredgers dawdle like shifty tramps; lumpen container ships insult the humbled port; cranes droop and rust, rail tracks disappear under shabby weeds - the only life reclaiming this stretch of river. A lone angler stares at the unyielding water, scant hope in a desolate place. Behind me a whiteboarded pub, 'The World's End', named by a jester as though this miserable river front could ever match Finis Terrae. Yet in some ways it does. It is the crumbling jetty, the visible vestige, of our old world - tall ships, clippers, cutters and coasters, purveyors of empire and ten pound liners heading out to Australia. Departures with no landmark, no Three Graces or torch bearing statue, no nostalgic image to hold dear. Just a dismissive wave of a hand.

Archived comments for Departures
sweetwater on 13-10-2014
Departures
Gosh what a sad picture, I bet when the Thames started out amongst grass and green fields it never dreamed it would come to that degredation. Sadly it's not just rivers that have to put up with such ghastliness.
Wonderful writing, so descriptive loved the poem a whole story in itself, brilliant. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Sue. I'm pleased you liked it.
Gerald

Supratik on 14-10-2014
Departures
Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem. Although it is about a particular river, readers from all over the world can relate with the poem with their respective historicities. I absolutely loved the deft use of the profession jester (buffare) here and that of Finis Terrae! I agree with Sue's observation on the poem! Supratik

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Supratik, for stopping by and reading my poem. I enjoyed reading your response. Thank you for the rate.
Nemo

Mikeverdi on 14-10-2014
Departures
Once again your words entrance us Gerald, great work. Have I read this before, it seems familiar?
Mike


Author's Reply:
Yes, Mike, you read this about 18 months ago. I'm not coming up with any new writing at the moment so I'm re-appraising and editing all my old ones and reposting. Slightly off-putting is the drop in hits and comments. Thanks for commenting and many thanks if it was you who nominated it.
Gerald

Pilgermann on 16-10-2014
Departures
The poem brought back many memories. The church where her grave lies - in Gravesend - next to that used to be a school called Church Street. I know the area well - having lived there for many years. The Royal Court used to traipse down here for days out, Stravinsky stood on the hill top of Gordon's gardens musing on the spring, and the cannons still look out for the armada and the Germans.
You are a Tilbury lad, it seems.
B



Author's Reply:
A Wirral lad living in Essex since 1970, I still miss the Mersey and the Liverpool river front. Tilbury and Gravesend do not compare. Thanks for reading and commenting, B.
Nemo

Gothicman on 16-10-2014
Departures
Brilliant, as usual, Gerald. My mother grew up in Liverpool, Scotland Road of Beatles fame; she used to say at that time the richer you were the further away from the river you lived, now it's the reverse. Hope they don't ruin the Thames Estuary, in fact all eastwards from Chelsea Reach! Trevor

Author's Reply:
Scotland Road - that was the 'rough' part of Liverpool! The lower part of the Thames is a disgrace, only getting better just before Southend. Thanks for liking my wee poem, Trevor. Have you tried my story? (On a School Leavers' Outing) Not to your liking?
Regards, Gerald

Gothicman on 16-10-2014
Departures
Yes, it was, in the Dingle I think the area was called. She was the diamond in the coal stack! A proud Lancastrian family that fell on hard times after the Napoleonic Wars, decimated the men folk! Well the further you went along to Wales, the bigger the Meccano set you could buy! The real Liverpudlians had box 5 with add-ons! Hahaha! Boris Johnson's 3rd airport will ruin all that estuary life, so beware! I'll read your school leaver's outing - public school at Port Sunlight was it?........Trevor

Author's Reply:


Play Centre (posted on: 10-10-14)


His mother had done her best to keep his mind on the painting they'd started together, but his pallid nostrils twitched, lifted up, sensed something in the air, or on my face. Scuttling through a gap in the giggling fence of other children huddled round the hutch, he found it easy to slip the catch, and run, his head hidden by the long tall grass, which she had kept on saying should be green, to the rabbit-hole, where he'd not be caught. Clawing down the apple-crumble tunnel, he wasn't sorry he'd screamed this morning as she tried to cut his sharp bunny-nails. The burrow had that nest-of-arms smell like when she was warm-straw in her happy-dress. No, he didn't envy Ben's thick coat of fur: it was good for burying your face in and for drying your cheeks while your fingers gurgled in the soft-water of his floppy ears, till the owl-ringed weariness floated from your eyes, gliding down into Ben's dark vigil of honesty: animal truth that wouldn't blink or look away, a sky-darkness you could sleep in now, soft-centred like the kangaroo-pocket your bedroom used to be. 'Come on, darling.' He could see his Daddy's twinkling stars much more clearly now, 'Come on, love,' all around him, bright, like all the nicest smiles he'd ever known. 'l want to stay with Ben.' 'It's time to go, Daddy will look after your painting.' His mother lifted him up, stroked his hairless head. 'The nice doctor's waiting, Ben will still be here next time.' And another time . But this time, going home, clawing up the apple-crumble tunnel into the bright starry night outside, we blinked, looked away, and gently cried. (Scene at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children 1982. Written in 1985)

Archived comments for Play Centre
Mikeverdi on 10-10-2014
Play Centre
Hart rending Gerald, beautifully written as always. Those that have seen the kids wards will never forget.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike, appreciated, as always.
Gerald

Bozzz on 10-10-2014
Play Centre
Hi Gerald - almost impossible to comment - just strong feelings of sympathy and hope - David

Author's Reply:
Thank you, David, for your kind words. Good to hear from you again. This poem refers to a difficult time, fortunately with a good outcome.
Regards, Gerald

Savvi on 11-10-2014
Play Centre
bloody hell I was having such a nice morning, now I'm crying, well done, very well done. Best Keith

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Keith. Good to hear from you again. Sorry I made you cry. (I was crying when I wrote it.)
Regards, Gerald


After Seeing Thomas Hood's Poem on the Underground (posted on: 06-10-14)


I remember, yes, I too remember the house where I was born, and the only photograph I remember is the one I do not have of the front, taken before the war which commandeered for bombs the railings and the wrought-iron gate. I remember the jagged stumps, and the missing gate, like a loss of face; the absurdity of the cloche hats of my mother sadly smiling sadly; of my kind aunt, too, with no kids to spoil, who kindly spoilt me with plums till I was sick, and saved up her suicide for her retirement. I remember the dining-room, agony of long evenings, wind howling under floor-boards, lino lifting, reek of smoke filling the air, the Bakelite wireless in the corner, wheezing and spluttering in and out of life, my father causing friction twiddling dials. I remember the air-raid shelter my parents shared with old Mrs Weaver till the last all-clear, the cat that sulked in the cherry-tree if left for a day; flour-faced Mrs Weaver, my first death at eight; the cat at ten, just a whiff of gas, after his trouble in the coal-shed. I remember the landing, where I stood and it was always cold, and I'd call that I couldn't sleep, as they niggled away downstairs, the one coal fire petering out, a smouldering rumble of a row she would miss when he'd gone. I remember the front room, conserved for special occasions and never used, icy as a monk's cell, my Meccano retreat. I google and see new railings, a new gate - I imagine phantoms gliding from room to room, trampling over the boy on the landing as they traipse through the man on the train.

Archived comments for After Seeing Thomas Hood's Poem on the Underground
Mikeverdi on 06-10-2014
After Reading Thomas Hood on the Underground
Ahhh memory lane Gerald, we all stroll down there from time to time. I enjoyed the look back, some of the thoughts I too remember, from my own childhood. You do these very well.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Another re-post from last year. Pleased you liked it, Mike.
Gerald

Gothicman on 07-10-2014
After Seeing Thomas Hoods Poem on the Underground
I particularly like these poems filled with nostalgic, historic descriptions and sentiments, Gerald, and with your skills, a real pleasure to read for there is so much common experience threading through it all. I think the repetition of "I remember" works here as it comes over like someone recalling events as further associations in memory, holding it all together better. Some beautiful lines and word use. Enjoyed....Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Trevor. I'm pleased you liked it. (It was nibbed last year - not a sniff this time!) 'I remember' repeated, echoing the annoying repetition in Thomas Hood's poem.
Gerald

Tasha-ann on 07-10-2014
After Seeing Thomas Hoods Poem on the Underground
I liked this so very much... sad and beautiful... well done. 🙂

Author's Reply:
Many thanks for stopping by and commenting, Tasha-ann.
Regards, Gerald


Goldfish (posted on: 22-09-14)


It's quiet - just her muttering and mumbling all day long, and outside, a double-muffled melange of frosted voices scurrying past. The numbness she has, the gnawing, damp, weathering of sensation, has her fidgeting between naps, then turning her blurred eyes to question the incomprehensible street, or fiercely cross-examine his empty chair. The hollowness, the wandering ache, amongst all the dustless clutter of valuable things in the assembly kit that made their latest home, is her, dispossessed of how she used to be. For she remembers chirpy whistling days with windows that breathed, seasons strolling in for a chat, grubby knees at open doors, and laughter scampering from room to room. Now nothing stirs, nothing except time creeping round, outdating the shiny things, like her goldfish stalking quietus round the bowl.

Archived comments for Goldfish
Pilgermann on 22-09-2014
Goldfish
Images and emotions well articulated. Time makes hollow us all unless we have cherished and built those moments of friendship into much more than just a christmas card. Another fine piece of writing.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. This is quite an old poem, from about 30 years ago.
Regards, Gerald.

sweetwater on 23-09-2014
Goldfish
To me this was terribly sad, too many once loved, now part forgotten relatives end up becoming shells on the outside, and torn apart with memories of who they were on the inside. Although it was sad, I enjoyed the whole poem. Sue.

Author's Reply:
I'm pleased you liked it, Sue. I'm not sure who I based it on, partly my mother and partly a neighbour, perhaps. Partly also, myself in a few years time. Thanks for commenting, Gerald.

Elfstone on 24-09-2014
Goldfish
I've come back to this two or three times - it is a fine poem.
With great respect to Ionicus, I disagree with his comment on "quietus". The idea of a goldfish stalking death as a means of escape from the bowl - the only escape - is the perfect reflection at the end of the poem. Elfstone

Author's Reply:
Many thanks for reading and commenting on my poem, Elfstone.
Regards, Gerald

A big thank you to whoever nominated this poem!

pommer on 24-09-2014
Goldfish
So well expressed Gerald.I have seen this so often, and now it has come close to me. I enjoyed reading it however. Be lucky, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thank you for your comment, Peter. Much appreciated.
Gerald

Mikeverdi on 25-09-2014
Goldfish
You have a life time of rich and fine poetry, I always look forwards to reading your work Gerald. This is of the finest.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Mike. Much appreciated.
Gerald


The Artless Bodger's Attempt at an Art Potique (posted on: 22-09-14)


I shall measure out my life with spoonfuls of borrowed ideas and with a pretence of knowing about this and that and poetry. Just tell me the ingredients of a good poem and I shall have a go at writing one. And tell me the right form and shape so that it looks right on the page, and I will knock it about a bit so that the lines end at the right place Meanwhile, once more creeps on me the urge to write and churn it out like this:
The jolly verse that off my tongue doth trip Maketh all the girls' hearts to dance and skip
But who has powers these days to sit and rhyme? Sitting and rhyming we lay waste our time. Or perhaps I'll try another tack:
On woeful jazz-days like this I stand and stare and cannot piss
Write like this and they'll throw it back. 'Ere, why don't I try a little nonsense spoof?
It's late, the cats are howling on the roof, My husband will not be home tonight
No, this won't do, the subject's too trite! What if I hold a short idea between my teeth like elastic and pull?
Yes but, how far? How far? Far enough's too frightening, Far far too frightening, Far far too Pascalian, much too far to It's a long way to when will I ever ...
Write like this and the answer's never! Well, at least I'm on my guard against self-deceit, ever since a man did accost me in the street, and he did insult me with no uncertain greet ing, and ready, I, to go on my my thought how oft doth wisdom cry out int strasse, a nasty bodger he called me und so me geschtoppt und listund: he said "Write no tripe in cryptic lang uage and eschew lousy lines that just hang together in sepulchral sound sjust knocked around."

Archived comments for The Artless Bodger's Attempt at an Art Potique
Pilgermann on 22-09-2014
The Artless Bodger’s Attempt at an Art Poétique
I've read this 4 times and am still chuckling my way till the end. Great commentary, but we all recognise when there is even the slightest stab at "art". Function and form can be stretched and you demonstrate a mastery which many will try and emulate but without the intelligent drive. It is good to watch a master at work here, and in your other poems.

Author's Reply:
I'm pleased you liked it, Pilgerman. I was in my late twenties when I started work on it; it was my first 'attempt' at a 'serious' poem. Thanks for commenting.
Gerald

Mikeverdi on 25-09-2014
The Artless Bodger’s Attempt at an Art Poétique
Just brilliant Gerald, I bow to your use of words; the fist verse is a stand alone comment for me. This one should have got a Nib.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. As I said to Pilgerman, this was a really early poem. Not complaining about it not being nibbed - it was nibbed when I first posted it 18 months ago. Depends on who's on nib duty.
Regards, Gerald.


Rendition in Verse of 4′33″ by John Cage (posted on: 15-09-14)



Archived comments for Rendition in Verse of 4′33″ by John Cage
Gothicman on 15-09-2014
Rendition in Verse of 4′33″ by John Cage
I thought for moment you were going to better Richard's "Test" and chant_z's "Jewelry that never appeared", but, this went three seconds over in the second movement so I'm afraid it needs a little tweaking, Gerald!

Author's Reply:
Sorry, Trevor, but I think your timing's out and anyway there is no second movement to spill over into! Everyone knows that. Oh, and if you turn your sound up, you'll hear some coughing and the applause at the end.

Gerald.

Gothicman on 16-09-2014
Rendition in Verse of 4′33″ by John Cage
Okej Gerald, you were right, a squashed fruit fly on my screen stopped three seconds of silence from being heard, so beautifully transcribed. This should have been awarded at least two red nibs IMHO. ...Trevor

P.S. I turned the sound up and heard no coughing at all and no clapping, so wonderful audience but you cut it off a little too early.

Author's Reply:
I've just realised - silly me - you wouldn't have heard any coughing or applause because the sound engineers had edited them out! Thanks for thinking it's worth a nib. My piece on similar lines:'Poème Sans Paroles' (9-9-13) got a nib from Andrea.
Gerald


Tree Love (posted on: 15-09-14)


We have to love our apricot tree, and love it extra hard in winter. That's when we have to love its brain pulsing with synaptic sparrows, love its coursing veins and arteries x-rayed against the retinal sky. We have to love it for braving it out when dripping wet and aching cold, love it for defiantly sleeping rough, for not coming in at night, not even when bent with snow or gnawed by frost. We even have to love it for making do with sorry scraps of slimy slough scavenging worms have chewed and shat. And we have to love it, too, in spring, when our unconditional love is returned with sprigs of bridal blossoms, a Derby Day hat plumed in glistening green, and, if we've really loved it hard enough, a grinning pride of cherub-bottomed babes.
.
Archived comments for Tree Love
Pilgermann on 16-09-2014
Tree Love
An interesting love poem which flows well and builds up through the seasons. I was not sure what you were alluding to in the last verse with "cherub-bottomed babes". And one question: Is the love truly unconditional? Otherwise an enjoyable read.

Author's Reply:
The offsping of apricot trees have a rounded and cleft appearance that reminds me, at least, of cherubs' rear ends. Love, in the case of how I feel about our tree, is definitely unconditional. How could it be otherwise? I do not, for instance, divorce myself from if it fails to yield fruit. Thanks for commenting.

sweetwater on 18-09-2014
Tree Love
How I loved your cherub babes apricot bots, so downy soft, could picture them as soon as I read the line. I too would have unconditional love for such a giving life force. And a tree can't just walk away and leave you either. smashing poem 🙂 Sue.

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Sue, for yourlovely comment. I'm pleased you liked it.
Gerald

sweetwater on 18-09-2014
Tree Love
How I loved your cherub babes apricot bots, so downy soft, could picture them as soon as I read the line. I too would have unconditional love for such a giving life force. And a tree can't just walk away and leave you either. smashing poem 🙂 Sue.

Author's Reply:


About the seashells (posted on: 12-09-14)


We collected these objets d'art as an investment, a certain elemental evening when the sky was a Fighting Temeraire - imagine it all ablaze and sinking into the sea, with a slow, incandescent hiss. St. Ives blinked in the wind with eyes like stars, and saw this picture, but missed, I think, the details - the lone pair of looters we made, dipping and pecking like seagulls, at the tide's trailing hem. Like louis d'or - these shells, re-perfections of chaos, we pocketed them exactly the way you children did - and came running up to show us, with the Risen Venus glistening in your eyes. It must have been the brittleness of the moment - my suddenly remarking the sea would soon be tall, like a giant to Jack over our heads. And, half a mile out from the shore, we tried to laugh off the threat, gruff and rowdy as it would be, bobbing and weaving around us like a drunken day-tripper stumbling home, looking for a fight to land the killer blow. Still, we were not churned and turned like shells to specks of dust, but it was good being scared, like being unbearably happy with ourselves on a big dipper and not yet divided in death. We knew, of course, you'd be wreathed in smiles, coming to clear the house - you'd find these shells on my desk and handle them with hushed reverence - marvelling at these treasures sculptured in Atlantis.

Archived comments for About the seashells
Mikeverdi on 12-09-2014
Just a note to say ...
I always look forwards to reading your work Gerald, this is beautiful. For me it was shrouded in melancholy, 'we knew, of course, you'd be wreathed in smiles' brought it all into focus for me. Just perfect.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Mike. Much appreciated. However, I may delete it and post it another time. It's not getting much interest.
Gerald

Gothicman on 14-09-2014
Just a note to say ...
Yes, if one takes the time to read this long rich poem, it certainly rewards the effort, Gerald. The note presumably on the kitchen table for the lucky person the house will be left to. It really is a shame that so few take the trouble to read this expertly composed work with its carefully chosen wording saying precisely what is to be said. Perhaps a little too long and rich for many, or the title not attracting interest. (The title is so important when a list of works is being glanced at). "Just a note ..." is very poignant and should be included but as info, even in italics at the beginning of the work spaced away above the start of the poem. But a better title, that is your only achilles heal for me. A title with "life" and "seashells" in it would bring a little aesthetic feel to the title and draw searching readers in. I usually add the title at the end to reflect the messaging as best as possible. Please don't bin and resubmit these gems of yours, Gerald. I've had poems on here earlier that increased their hits steadily over time to as much as 3,600, so people who join or even those who just guest peruse often read the earlier work of someone who's caught their eye. And your work deserves much better notice and appraisal. Varying styles and experimenting, or being controversial can mean work is readily read, even if like mine the quality is not as good as yours. So don't be disheartened, reader hits come in waves depending on many factors. Loved the poem, very poignant and heart-warming...Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Trevor, for your thoughts on the title. It didn't occur to me as the poem got a good reception when I posted it 18 months ago. Your comment has made the work that went into it all worthwbile. I started it 25 years ago then forgot about it. I found 20 pages of jottings in the loft five years ago then finished it off. One of my favourites.
Gerald.



Sea View Luxury Apartments (posted on: 08-09-14)


We have so much to be so grateful for: another day is passing, after another day of sitting looking out through the window, and it is all paid for, and all is included. There are always sailing boats adorning the view, staked to the distance like fluttering white tents. (The paper's fallen onto the floor, pick it up later; didn't bother with lunch, not hungry.) I can see a little blond boy on the beach, giggling and throwing pebbles back into the sea - for his grandfather to pretend they're a pain to retrieve. And there's a man lazing on a lilo, just drifting off. But today's tide is so weary, the waves are tottering; some don't make it and drown like D-Day soldiers. Others gasp, frothing as they crumple on the sand. Strange, they were doing it yesterday, as well. The sailing boats seem to have moved a little, and yet they never appear to move an inch or perhaps they're not the same ones after all. The people on the beach are up and leaving again. Now the setting sun's playing on our windows, beaming our sad reflections into oblivion, and we've gratefully done another day's dying of exquisite boredom and genteel regret.

Archived comments for Sea View Luxury Apartments
Mikeverdi on 08-09-2014
Sea View Luxury Apartments
Bugger.... please don't let me end my days like this. Oh the hell of it all, wheel chair warriors, park bench hero's.
You paint a bleak picture Gerald; but as always you paint it well.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. Just hoping it's just as grim for the rich.

Gerald.

Gothicman on 08-09-2014
Sea View Luxury Apartments
Another fine poem with subtle connections written in that special understated style of yours, Gerald. Yes, what happened then and what happens today only a few years between, otherwise same backcloth, viewed by someone who can add a lot to the scene. Have you any published collections? For me, your consistently good work is certainly of publishing standard. Shame for it not to have wider appreciation. For me, always a pleasure to read even if you have been at it more than thirty years! Trevor.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for your appreciative words, Trevor. Much appreciated.
Gerald.

sweetwater on 09-09-2014
Sea View Luxury Apartments
Silly me I imagined at first they were in a holiday apartment and thought how lovely, they're very lucky, then the penny slowly slid to the ground as did the newspaper, and I understood the lonely, pointlessness they felt. Your words are wonderfully descriptive, especially about the tide. Can't help envying them the view though. 🙂 Sue.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Sue.

Regards, Gerald.


Disused Quarry (posted on: 05-09-14)
Danger - Keep Out

It was when the tadpoles got too old for the sweet-jar that he went to the quarry, performed the necessary ceremony, and first felt paternal. The water rippled baptismally, as they submerged, shaking off tails in convoys of adulthood. Approving, the sun patted his head, as he turned, on reconnaissance, leading the way up the cliff. And there was the crane! Abandoned, gun-barrel drooping, its last dog-fight acted out on a boy's battle-field. The levers what a sorry crew they made, the way Monty's men had to leave them limb-stiff to the heat and flies: the engine still smelled of heavy action, dripped imagined suffering, retribution . Suddenly, the Sunday-school sensation was there, squatting in the reeds of his mind, its frog-eyed surveillance, at tongue's length, like a sniper ready to pick him off if he didn't keep low, in hand-to-hand retreat.

Archived comments for Disused Quarry
Mikeverdi on 05-09-2014
Disused Quarry
You do this stuff so well Gerald, wonderful use of metaphor.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. An old one.
Gerald.

Gothicman on 06-09-2014
Disused Quarry
Brilliant again Gerald!
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Trevor.

Gerald

Supratik on 07-09-2014
Disused Quarry
Interesting recount that made for an interesting read!

Supratik

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Supratik.

Nemo

stormwolf on 07-09-2014
Disused Quarry
Hi Gerald
This caught the excitement and imagination of childhood well.
Liked the way you wove the frog theme through the final stanza bringing the poem together.

Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Alison. Resorting to re-posting some old ones at the moment. Got nothing new. This one's from around 30 years ago.

Regards, Gerald.

stormwolf on 07-09-2014
Disused Quarry
Nothing wrong with posting old ones and sometimes we can rework them when we revisit them.
Also allows new readership to evaluate them too 🙂
Alison x

Author's Reply:


Aegrotat (posted on: 01-09-14)


Gary was going to Grenoble, dropping me off in Lyon. It wasn't the Boulevard Prifrique that terrifed me in '64, it was his nerves. Back a year later for his final year, sequestered in his college room, he played Brassens and Brel non-stop for his nerves, reliving the shaking of his year in France, a stash of Gitanes to cut himself with. Shaking visibly harder a week before his finals, he saw his tutor and left. Ten years later, by chance in our staff room at morning break, he'd shaken his way out of teaching. 'I've graduated in educational books,' he joked, not sure if it was a joke. Twenty minutes of shaking and manning his display before the lesson bell, then the recurring pain of packing away in the suddenly empty staff room. And on to the next school, another twenty minutes of shaking, to make a sale or die. Brassens and Brel, my reel-to-reel copies, lie side by side in my cellar, like effigies of loved ones finally at rest in a vault.

Archived comments for Aegrotat
Pilgermann on 02-09-2014
Aegrotat
Like this. Was not sure about this line:
"reliving the shaking
of his year France,"
Is there an "in" missing?

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Pilgermann, Yes, there should be an 'in.; Thanks for the spot.

Nemo

Supratik on 03-09-2014
Aegrotat
Hi Nemo, This is good, and especially for someone like me who'd also been through Brassens and Brel while studying in Montpellier III. I loved the poem, although there are parts I got lost. Listen please write more and more.
It was a pleasure reading this poem.
Best regards,

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Supratik.
Regards, Nemo

Gothicman on 04-09-2014
Aegrotat
Excellent work again, Gerald. Your work needs careful reading to get the full joy of its content, but, this skillful understated style always a pleasure to read. This is why your "hit" count is slow at first and soars to hundreds after a few days or so. I wish more would try this style as this continually hinting to build up a picture of human nature, personalities, and their earnest endeavors to function in life are so true to life, even when fictitious representations. Masterly as usual....Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Trevor. This poem was written earlier this year. I've run out of ideas since. Been thinking about the tin whistle - but what was it for?

Gerald

Gothicman on 04-09-2014
Aegrotat
Well, after the barrage of exploding shells falling and the ratta tat of machine gun fire ceasing with the end of each suicidal charge, even a simple soulful tune from a solo tin whistle would have had a cheering effect, boosted morale? Presumably this is why Ethel received many letters of condolence from surviving comrades praising his courage and tenacity and giving them some faith in what they were trying to achieve? Trevor

Author's Reply:
Agh, there was me thinking it was one blown to signal to the men to go over the top. I couldn't equate that misunderstanding of mine with his rank. Gerald

Mikeverdi on 04-09-2014
Aegrotat
As an uneducated slob I have no idea what this is all about; or rather I know what it's about...just not the setting. In saying all of this, I don't need to. It reads well and the gist is there for me to make what I can of it; for me it's enough. You are a class writer Gerald.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks for having a go at this, Mike. A university mate of mine who had a bad time.
Gerald.


Pinochet and Foie Gras (posted on: 29-08-14)


The dinner was in my honour, he said, for the visiting Englishman. French exchange in eighty-eight. Jean-Pierre's friends included another smallholder like him, a land-owning communist lawyer, a teacher, a builder, and a young woman who'd fled from Chile. Whatever we talked about has eroded with time; if Proudhon and land-owning were aired, wine would have kept things light - our persiflage, a safer world, worlds away from Pinochet. The embodiment of grief sat still, a tight-lipped aura we tried to include, to ease the discomfiture that she'd brought with her what she'd left behind. Next morning, a shrill dawn chorus of shrieking, clanging pain woke me like an arresting knock on the door, manhandling me out of bed. Over breakfast, Jean-Pierre smiled, dsol, force-feeding, he said, it's cruel but necessary as if an apology could ever suffice.

Archived comments for Pinochet and Foie Gras
Gothicman on 29-08-2014
Pinochet and Foie Gras
Brilliant, Gerald, absolutely brilliant. The title supplying just the extra info needed to keep it subtle. If Freja likes you, and she's especially good at this type of poetry, then you must be good! (She hasn't come back as "Bonnie"?). ...Trevor.

Author's Reply:
Glad you liked my wee poem, Trevor. Thanks for commenting. One of my pretentious ones.

Just had to put the third stanza back in - missed it out when I was copying from a revised earlier version.

Freya - oh Freya - who drove her away? Can't we get her back?

Cheers, Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 30-08-2014
Pinochet and Foie Gras
I agree with Trevor Gerald, this is so good; you back to your best!
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Mike. Much appreciated. Glad you liked it.

Gerald

Gothicman on 31-08-2014
Pinochet and Foie Gras
Yes, I do think that inclusion of the third stanza improves an excellent poem even more. Cognitive perpetuation, as it's called, influences from one situation carried over subconsciously to another, occurs more than is known. Freja might come back if you continue to write as good as this.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Cognitive perpetuation - I have unwittingly stunbled into a foreign country where I am being blinded.

Gerald.

Gothicman on 31-08-2014
Pinochet and Foie Gras
Not so difficult surely Gerald: Jean-Pierre's dictator-like behavior towards you at breakfast influenced by the young woman from Chile's effect on you all the night before? Even you yourself, with experiencing "an arresting knock on the door"? We are seldom totally neutral in situations, often emotional chemicals which can take time to dissipate remain from previous situations influencing our ongoing cognition. It is these left-over chemicals that should have been externalized in driving real physical reactions that cause psychosomatic stresses and illnesses if occurring long-term! Even cognition alone (though without emotion seldom lasting long) can carry over from one situation to another as an unknown influence with shorter time intervals between.

Author's Reply:
Och, I was kidding. I knew what you meant but not having had even the scantiest grounding in psychology, I am thrown off the simple lexical path I tread by such terms as 'cognitive perpetuation.' I am impressed by the learning you display in accounting for how the poem was put together. I think I may have many psychosomatic stresses. How can I tell?

Gothicman on 31-08-2014
Pinochet and Foie Gras
We all have, it's what kills us in the end! Lol.

Author's Reply:


Notes for an Unfinished Symphony (posted on: 25-08-14)


Misterioso: Nearly at my journey's end, reaching a vast forest, no extremities, no way past, entering with timorous tread, no path to follow, only a faltering sense of direction. Trees tower over me - cantilevered roof pierced only here and there, filtering dim shards of light, Scherzo: Stumbling through fecund ferns, waking mouldering mulch; inhaling heady exhalations. Long periods of disquieting silence, birds and forest creatures in unaccustomed cowering, no breeze, not even gentle soughing in the trees, only the sound of my moving, and fearful breathing. Adagio: Exhaustion making care for time none of my caring, I reach a point of utter disorientation, a despair that calls for total cessation. Unheard, my cries sound the depths of the benighted nave, its interminable colonnades, its oculus obscurus.

Archived comments for Notes for an Unfinished Symphony
Pilgermann on 25-08-2014
Notes for an Unfinished Symphony
A fine piece of writing. I had been expecting that you would have finished the finished the fourth, but the last line sums up the life now at an end.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Pilgerman. I'm pleased you liked it.

Nemo

Supratik on 25-08-2014
Notes for an Unfinished Symphony
It's a wonderful writing of a journey coming to an end, where the poet is condemned to ignore everything other 'than the sound of my moving, and fearful breathing'. That the inevitable has come is placed so beautifully. I think in this solemn travelling with disquieting silence, the poet merges with the poem. Thank you for sharing this wonderful write.

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Supratik.

Regards, Nemo


Mikeverdi on 25-08-2014
Notes for an Unfinished Symphony
Back to your best Gerald, a gold star from me.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Mike. surprised, never thought this one would get anywhere. Glad you liked it.

Adverts - are you getting adverts popping up in the comment boxes or is it just my laptop?

Regards, Gerald

Gothicman on 27-08-2014
Notes for an Unfinished Symphony
As usual, Gerald, a novel approach to how genius in the Arts is often the result of considerable preparation and emotional soul-searching in order to achieve that which is intended to be conveyed in the finished work. But, I've got a feeling you're going to tell me this is more in metaphor, about someone trying to get his/her own philosophy together using musical cues, or even the intellectual's approach to love-making: the arousal stage, the act, and the soothing fag afterwards! Like something Philip Larkin would have written! I've become more wary of your answers to comments now Lol!

I've edited it again, for with second reading, it appears the act was completed successfully!

Skillfully written and an interesting approach. Trevor

Author's Reply:
Hi Trevor. (I keep getting wretched adverts pop when I try to write in the comment box.)

There's nothing uber-clever about this poem, in fact, it's a bit of a con, as a lot of 'art' is.

It simply and innocently began as an attempt to convey the images and emotions conjured up for me by Bruckner's symphonies - wooded cathedrals of sound. Bloody big forests, rather.

After marinating for four years on a low heat, it became apparent that its terminal sentiments best described his symphony number 9, which he didn't manage to finish. 'Cos of his death. Hence the title.

So, perhaps, disappointingly, it's nothing to do with 'the intellectual's approach to love-making: the arousal stage, the act, and the soothing fag afterwards' none of which I would even attempt to write about.

If you're not familiar with Bruckner, I'd say now's the time to start, before it's too late. Beginning with the 9th and working backwards. On youtube even. They can be very ponderous but also very uplifting at times. Then move on to Neilsen's 5th ... and a few others I could recommend.

Gerald

Gothicman on 27-08-2014
Notes for an Unfinished Symphony
Gerald, you are a cad! Lucky I included three possibilities, looks like the first would have sufficed! Shame, because on my daily walk, I thought the 4th part, the Finale, could be soothing fag in Largo!
Perhaps you have hidden instinctual, or undiscovered, impulses that unknown to you sought expression when listening to Bruckner! Perhaps too, Leonard Bernstein was wrong in his assertion about depth of emotional sensitivity, who knows; everyone, quite rightly, will attempt to justify the situation living a life has brought them to.
I looked through my classical collection, here at least, and discovered only Bruckner's Symphony No 4, Wiener Philharmoniker; typical me, called Romantic; 4 movements too, Bewegt, Andante, Scherzo, and Finale; so I'll listen to the music now, and read your poem again! I'm more inclined towards Mahler, Beethoven, Rachmaninow, Bach, and Tschaikowsky, myself, and I love classical guitar, which I've played since aged 12, when the Meccano went in the loft! Hahahaha! Shame, what a marvelous metaphor you came up with otherwise. I wrote a poem how Stephen Hawkin might send a make up again letter to his wife in quantum emotions, might submit it if I can find it.
Anyway, excellent poem from all three perspectives for me. Trevor


Author's Reply:
Mahler, Beethoven, Rachmaninow, Bach, and Tchaikowsky - you cannot stop there - what about Mozart, Brahms, Sibelius, Vaughan Williams, Elgar, Shostokovich, Prokofiev, Walton.....? And Led Zeppelin?

Gothicman on 27-08-2014
Notes for an Unfinished Symphony
yes, goes without saying, the old chestnuts, all a fantastic legacy. But not Led Zeppelin, never did anything, preferred Grateful Dead, Ten Years After, Deep Purple, and especially Pink Floyd. Take a look at this cocky French girl:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vv066NyKq9k

and these great street guitarists:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sj7TzvrBdI8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGw1UpROUdg

Wonderful culture, like on the tube!


Author's Reply:
Great stuff. G


Cassie Reads Ode to Cassandra on the Underground (posted on: 22-08-14)
Possible reaction to seeing a translation on the Underground of this famous French poem by Pierre de Ronsard

"Let's go, my dear, and see if the rose " ( "Mignonne, allons voir si la rose." ) The morning train is crowded, and in the poem a young Cassandre is being urged to go with Pierre de Ronsard in the evening to see if a purple rose has lost the petals which were, ah, so fresh like her this morning. And it has! Alas, being as ephemeral as a young girl's beauty, and the scheming Pierre knows it has even before they reach it. Cassandre de Salviati, aged thirteen, and married off the following year, did she ever give twenty-year old Pierre de Ronsard a second thought, ever read this ode dedicated to her, in the first edition of his Amours emblazoned with her engraving and nippled cones for breasts? And today's young Cassie, office-bound, the right boots, the long thighs and the extended nails, does she give this poem a second thought, if discovered like a resplendent rose amongst briars of suspended arms swaying with the train? But perhaps she needs no urging from some guy called Pierre, and what began at a royal ball in 1545 in the Chteau de Blois as a frisson in a young poet's mind, to reverberate for centuries with Renaissance joie-de-vivre, is just some effin' French git goin' on about a bleedin' rose.

Archived comments for Cassie Reads Ode to Cassandra on the Underground
Gothicman on 23-08-2014
Cassie Reads Ode to Cassandra on the Underground
I really like reading your fine poems, Nemo, you have a special gift for this genre, like this one, with that classy ending, Hahaaha. So many fine lines mixing time and culture, making it all an intriguing read right through to the Essex commuter shock that concludes it. I wonder who it is at London Transport who initiates this cultural contribution on the Tube tunnel walls! Much enjoyed, Gothicman

Author's Reply:
Many thanks for your comment, Gothicman. I'm enjoying your appreciation of this little poem. It's been so hard to get recognition for it. I posted it on UKA last year and elsewhere but, at last, I can feel happy with it. And somebody's nibbed it, wow! Thanks to whoever that was.

Of course, this the Ode to Cassandra isn't actually on the Underground. I made that up! Perhaps it ought to be, however, though Herrick did the theme better.

Regards, Gerald.

Bonnie on 24-08-2014
Cassie Reads Ode to Cassandra on the Underground
I really enjoyed this. I think the Poems on the Underground scheme is brilliant, and I love the idea of the comparing and contrasting women from the 16th and 21st centuries. The image of strap-hanging commuters as briars is especially neat.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Bonnie. I'm pleased you liked it. The poems on the Underground are inspirational and have inspired me to write three 'underground' poems, two about poems which are not actually on the Tube but perhaps should be.

Regards, Gerald.

Gothicman on 24-08-2014
Cassie Reads Ode to Cassandra on the Underground
Those not acquainted with the London Underground and/or not using it regularly may be interested to know the Poems on the Underground scheme mentioned by Bonnie has been going since 1986 to promote this form of culture to the general public:
https://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/culture-and-heritage/music-film-and-poetry/poems-on-the-underground

Author's Reply:

Mikeverdi on 24-08-2014
Cassie Reads Ode to Cassandra on the Underground
Great stuff again Gerald, don't remember it from before...did I miss it? Ah well found it now. Good to see you back again old friend, you were missed.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Mike. Thanks.

As I said a couple of months ago, I'm not finding enough time to come up with new poems. All I can do for the time being is keep my hand in by posting some old ones now and again.

Gerald


Showing Me (posted on: 08-08-14)


Wait for it, you'll hear the old boy really yell! My dad hurled a stone over our back-yard wall, chuckling as it hit the shed's corrugated roof and we shared the shiver of rust down old Joe's neck: old Joe from the back, fat on scrap in the war, still fat in leaner times, had an aging lorry that sagged and wobbled down the alley, gouging walls with great elongated grooves. Fifty years on, I'm googling in on the map, seeing an uncompromising patch of green - the alley, the scrap-yard, the old houses, gone: all demolished, like the site of a heinous crime - compelling this need to preserve what I was shown, if only like rust taking on the corrosion of time.

Archived comments for Showing Me

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Espdaillac (posted on: 04-08-14)
Portrait of a French village

The church stands helpless above the village, its bell switched to silent since midnight, the count-down to eternity on hold. Second homers, holiday sleepers and atheists: les Rosbifs have bought up Le Lot in numbers. Arrive by night and darkness has dispelled centuries of pain like an analgesic; subsistence wound up like coal-mines and cotton mills; depression and grief sobbed into walls of stone; staying and starving or try emigration. It's a timid bell that comes on again at six; the quietness turns over and goes back to sleep though the summer sun is shining - but it shines to no purpose on vacant, unproductive fields; it's only value that grows on former farms. 1731 above the door of her crumbling cottage, a couple of ragged fields and an empty barn: the old woman had lived on, remembered the last flock of sheep; husband broken, faces of children, those who grew and sailed away. A small pair of leather boots, at least a century old, are curling in the heat, displayed by their new owners on the barn window sill. How quaint, some guest will remark; another will try to picture the wearer: a girl hauling water daily from the well, or the old woman, perhaps, enduring from dawn till dusk, stumbling and sticking it out: one of the world's unremembered dead, who has quietly left something to show.

Archived comments for Espdaillac

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Story in Three Fonts (posted on: 13-06-14)


''I'm beginning to think this holiday was a big mistake.'' He made no attempt to hide the irritation in his voice. He reached out for his torch, switched it on and looked at the time on his watch. ''Half past bloody two. I've been lying here for over an hour. I still can't sleep. I'm too hot.'' Too hot when he was lying next to her, he'd almost winced with pain whenever their bodies touched, and, when he could bear it no longer, he'd moved petulantly to another bunk on the other side of the cabin. This would be the first time they'd slept apart since he'd moved into her flat all those years ago. He wondered how significantly it would register on the scale of their present difficulties. Switching off the torch, he stared across the cabin and waited for his eyes to adjust to the faint moonlight that filtered through the flimsy curtains like a luminous gas. She was lying with her back towards him. He felt it was a rejection he could not ignore. ''Are you asleep?'' he whispered, just loud enough to wake her if she was, while pretending he was trying not to. ''I'm sorry, but I was burning up with that mattress, the way it dips in the middle. It kept tipping us into each other.'' ''Can't you be quiet? I was nearly asleep!'' she hissed, unforgivingly. The brochure didn't mention the heat. Two weeks on they Shropshire Union Canal. On a barge. Experience life on one of Britain's oldest manmade waterways, the way it was over two centuries ago. Something different, they both agreed, and made the booking. Definitely different: no electricity meant no fans, no air conditioning, he thought bitterly, easing himself onto a momentarily cooler part of his bunk, and trying to get to sleep. Perhaps he could sleep if he didn't try so hard, if he didn't force it. But it was too quiet. A canal was not like a road. And it ran though open country. Flat. Not enough trees for the wind to blow through. No sound of wind, at all. No lapping of water. Just crickets in the distance, like noise-repellent sound-proofing, wrapped around the cabin. To his way of thinking, it was an oppressive, almost total, silence. He was missing the comforting accompaniment of rumbling traffic that blanked out the noise in his ears. Tinnitus. The more he tried to pick out any sound that might dispel the quiet, the more quiet it became, the louder the noise in his ears became, and the more he felt panic would soon take control of him like nausea welling up from an unperceived pain. Then came a sound, her breathing, becoming audible, heavier, deeper. Damn! He always had to be the one to fall asleep first - it was an unspoken understanding - but this time she'd beaten him to it. There was no hope of sleep now. It was cooler on deck, and very dark. The sort of darkness that makes you dizzy. The moon had disappeared behind a cloud and they were too far from any city for there to be any glow in the sky. He pulled his dressing-gown around him more tightly and felt his way along the side of the cabin roof, holding onto the rail. Gradually, he began to feel cooler and could start to reason with himself, to talk himself back down below, to lie still and wait patiently for sleep. Outside, the chirping of crickets, too, was bringing relief from the fetid silence down below; but it was masking another sound coming from lower down the canal, allowing it to get close, so close that, when he realised what it was, it was already too late. It was the sound of two oars striking and leaving the water, creaking in the rowlocks as they were lowered again, repeating the process until the rowing-boat they were propelling collided with the barge, bounced off it, and then was gently steered alongside. By the time he had worked his way back down below, fumbled for his torch in the dark and had half climbed, half fallen back up the steps, two figures were hauling themselves onto the barge and were staggering, exhausted, across the deck, heading to where he stood, his hand shaking as he pointed the torch at their faces. ''Endless. The possibilities are endless.'' I like it. In fact, I tell my wife. She claims she noticed it first. We'll never agree. Our son, James, and his new partner, Moya, join in as well. Soon all the visitors on the fifth floor of Tate Modern are joining in. If you stare at an exhibit for long enough, other people think you've cracked it and have worked out the conundrum, and feel obliged to join in, to avoid looking stupid. For example, the one hundred and twenty house-bricks arranged two-deep five by twenty in a rectangle on the floor, with don't-touch lines around them. But much more fun is to get everyone stooping and genuflecting at the four three-foot high cubes with mirrors on all the visible sides. If you stand in front of each cube and peer over the top into the one opposite, you can see the two cubes reflecting each other down what appears to be a tunnel, endlessly. Even more fascinating is the fact that, as you change from one cube to other, the curvature of each tunnel is different from the next. The fun doesn't end there, because if you look sideways into the cubes rather than over the top, you get another set of reflected cubes, but this time they curve to the side, and don't go down a tunnel. Now there are so many visitors peering at the cubes that eventually we move away and stand back, admiring our handiwork. All the new visitors to this room are wondering what is going on and are approaching the cubes. The Indian attendant is jubilant, he has never seen so many people interested in this exhibit before. ''You have made me very busy,'' he says. ''I am usually very bored, but now I am having to be very watchful to make sure people don't cross the line.'' It is my son he speaks to and I feel slighted, as I reckon I started the whole thing off. Not according to my wife. One thing worries me - was this the artist's intention? Someone will say it doesn't matter. Modern art is modern art. Is the first creative bit what the artist does? Perhaps the next creative bit is what you make of it. Rather like the flattering captions on the wall which say more about the exhibit, you suspect, than the artist intended. 'Endless' might be a convenient link between an unfinished canal story and the possibilities of art at Tate Modern, but is there a link between our Bank Holiday outing on the South bank and a story waiting for the author to get his act together? It would be 'creative' to the point of dishonesty to say that we talked about holidays on canals over our meal in 'Strada', before moving on to the second-hand bookstalls we browsed at without deciding to buy anything. The link is 'the possibilities', of course. The possibilities were endless. These two people who had just hauled themselves on board might be dangerous, they might be armed. They might be fugitives from a crime scene or from an institution. They might be lost, after a night out. They might be drunk. But he didn't have time to think of all the possibilities. An instant reaction was called for. ''Can I help you?'' seemed the most human response, as he put one foot on the steps down to the cabin and, attempting to disguise the panic in his voice, called to his partner, ''Carrie! We have visitors. Can you come up?'' He continued to make his way downstairs, pointing his torch at Carrie, hastily slipping into her dressing gown. ''I'll light some lamps, Tom.'' The two visitors were now making their way down the steps into the cabin and were anxiously looking around as Carrie lit the lamps. Tom switched off his torch. He could see they were a man and a woman in their late twenties, looking far too tired to be a threat. ''Sleep,'' said the woman, a trace of foreign accent in her voice. Tom and Carrie both motioned towards two spare bunk beds. In less than two minutes, the visitors were asleep, fully clothed. ''All is not what it seems,'' I almost remark to nobody in particular, as I run my finger along the backs of the second-hand books. Therefore, the manner in which I run my finger along the backs of the books will be interpreted in different ways by nobody in particular who happens to be looking in my direction or visualising the scene if reading this. Or it will go unremarked, like the thought that preceded the movement of the finger, or the brushstroke, the laying of the bricks, the simile. Carrie had no difficulty interpreting Tom's discreet hand signals, as he turned his back to the visitors and affected a normality he wanted her to imitate. She would blow out the lamps one by one and leave one burning on low, so it could be quickly turned back up if necessary. She could go back to sleep if she wanted; he was not likely to get to sleep, anyway, so he would keep watch. The gestures for only two or three hours left before dawn and then they could start clattering about and making breakfast were not easy to make. Besides, Carrie could not see him clearly any longer, the remaining lamp being so dim. She settled down on her bunk, facing Tom, and with her eyes straining in the gloom to focus on the other end of the cabin. Allowing herself an ironic smile, she noted that Tom, who never slept, had begun to make his irritating snoring noise. Soon afterwards, she, too, was asleep. 'Confluence.' Running my finger over the backs of the books, I have time to savour this word that comes from nowhere, now, like the theme of a story, under Waterloo Bridge, in the sunshine, before my wife returns with coffee from the National Film Theatre opposite; this word which insinuates its way into a narrative, bringing lives together like books on a stall, in all weathers and all seasons: the word itself relishing its own metaphorical magnificence as it mingles the merging waters before discharging them mercilessly into a mighty ocean of possibilities. It was possibly the noise, or rather, the chorus of birds, or it may have been the change in the light, which woke Carrie up. Bright sunshine was streaming into the cabin, and a patch of blue sky could be seen through the cabin door, which had been left open. ''They've gone,'' she whispered, noticing the empty bunk beds, and gently waking Tom. ''I thought you were going to keep watch.'' There was no malice in her voice. ''Has anything gone missing?'' he asked, and began looking round. ''You can't assume they're thieves.'' ''I'm not. I don't know what to make of them.'' Satisfied nothing had been taken, they took a look on deck. The rowing-boat had gone, without a trace; there were no tell-tale streaks on the canal's tarnished mirror. Changing into their clothes and taking what they needed for a shower, they locked the cabin door, stepped down onto the tow-path and headed towards the campsite for an early breakfast, holding hands. Perhaps it was going to be a good holiday, after all. Second hand books on a bookstall, mercilessly thrown together into a mass grave of writers' inspiration. Do we grieve for the thought that precedes a simile, is it somehow a mere nuga compared with that which precedes the dab of a brush or the laying of one hundred and twenty bricks? Isn't a Moby Dick worth a Fighting Temeraire or a Madame Bovary worth a Rodin's Kiss? Yes, we all say in unison, but we're glad they're knowingly undersold. There was no mass grave for the chickens, the diseased and the injured, the ones with the torn off beaks and broken legs that couldn't be repaired - they were to be removed every morning and incinerated, before the eggs were collected. Not for Carrie . No eggs, of any sort. She would not be having a cooked breakfast. Tom agreed with her: it had been re-invigorating to have a shower after their hot, clammy night. As they strolled across from the shower block to the cafeteria, the gravel path emitted an agreeable crunching noise underfoot. They took deep breaths of the early morning air as if it was a cure for every illness ever known; it was fresh and cool, sweet with the exhalations of mulch and the verdant perfumery of trees and shrubs waking and stretching in the warming sunshine. Here and there, they saw a blackbird or two descend and forage briefly for a worm in the dewy grass, before scuttling away and flying off to a safe look-out. If this was a snapshot of a happy moment just when Carrie and Tom needed one, it was to be irretrievably lost the moment they reached the steps leading into the cafeteria. With rusty bolts holding together its prefabricated panels, it looked as though it had done time on a sixties' motorway construction site before being transported to its final resting place and precariously perched on bricks like a car robbed of its wheels. Once the door was closed, the interior felt and smelt like a sealed unit with air that never changed but simply moved about, half-heartedly dodging the weary blades of aging ceiling fans on half speed. Like pollen on a bee's legs, globules of grease clung to the particles of dust which floated in the rods of rancid sunlight directed like spotlights on the twenty or so blue plastic tablecloths. It was a cafeteria-cum-mini-supermarket-cum-camping-gear-shop complete with a gaseous mlange of stale culinary odours. To Carrie, it was bearable inside only because, apart from the campsite owner who was cooking and serving, it was empty of people at that early hour in the morning. Unlike Tom, she was not yet ready for other people. It grieved her that he could be like that - ready for other people, though she recognised it was a strength she could draw on. Her eyes followed his tall, angular frame as he brought bowls of cereals and milk over to their table. His short, almost spiky fair hair was nearly dry and was resuming its usual shape. Without thinking, she felt her own hair; it was still wet and resisted her attempts to fluff it out. ''They could at least have had a hair drier.'' ''I wonder if they do evening meals,'' said Tom, thinking a change of subject might avert another of Carrie's descents in darkness. Otherwise, he was in for a wretched day. ''You won't catch me coming here again!'' ''Our best plan is to finish here quickly and to get away from here. We can go up the canal and explore a bit.'' ''Don't patronise me!'' ''I wasn't. I was only trying..'' He was distracted by a sudden look of alarm on Carrie's face. She was staring in the direction of the door. A couple had just entered with a small child. Aged about three and carrying a floppy-haired doll, she ran over to the table next to Tom and Carrie's. ''This is Flopsy,'' she said, holding up her doll for them to see. Her parents were now at the table and were sitting down. ''Hello, Flopsy, nice to meet you.'' Tom could have added more but he was aware of Carrie's unease and, taking another sip of his coffee, said, ''We have to be going now, bye.'' Within seconds, Carrie had pushed back her chair and had started walking towards the door. Tom followed and placed his arm round her shoulders as they headed back to the barge. Escape was out of the question. For the first few weeks, at least. They needed to give the impression they were happy to be in their new country and that they were content with the jobs they had been given. 'Strada'.la strada.strata....street.my life's like a faraway street I can't remember: I walk down it and afterwards I can't remember what it was like, how the buildings were arranged, what the buildings looked liked, who passed me, anything that happened. My wife can remember everything. If I want to know, I ask her. She remembers. If I wanted to know what I ate at 'Strada', she would remember. Moya described growing up in Belfast during 'The Troubles.' That much I can remember of our visit to 'Strada', but not the shape of the tables, not the waiter's face nor if he had beads of sweat on his nose; not the time it took to get the bill; if it was the same waiter who brought it or another; if the toilets were memorable in any way. These might be the sort of things you remember, but not me. She thought of them as 'episodes' and this was one she was having now. She didn't know where she'd got this word from but she felt it suited her. Her episodes did, after all, have a definite start, a defining moment, and a conclusion, of sorts. But conclusions were less precise. It wasn't possible to pinpoint the exact moment when she felt better each time. It would take a while for her to notice that the dark clouds had gone and that the sun was shining. There was something different about this episode. For a start, she had been beginning to think she was free of them. It had been several weeks since the last, and after this holiday she would be back at work. Of course she'd refused medication - she felt it would dull her mind - make her forget - that, she would not allow herself to do. And she'd shunned counselling. She was afraid she'd lose the pain. She could not allow anyone to take away her pain. The barge was moving now and Carrie was lying on her bunk. Tom was taking them somewhere nice, he said. Nice. Tom and his fucking well ordered life! Perhaps that was why this episode felt different. Tom, and her pain. Had she been deliberately waiting for a trigger, something to set her off again, like putting on a film she knew would make her cry? Had she been losing her grip on her pain, the way Tom seemed to have done? ''It hurts to be happy.'' A pupil of hers had written that in her homework. Where had it come from, she wondered. It was true; she had allowed herself to be happy and the pain which followed her everywhere like a numinous presence was fading, to be replaced insidiously by another, the pain of forgetting. What could she do about it? Tom? What could Tom do? What could anyone do? Eventually, she would go up on deck. Once she'd got her face right. But she wanted to do some remembering first. While she still could. They would always remember that place. There was no doubt about it. The men slept in separate huts from the women. Couples were split up until their term of service was completed, the length of which was never revealed. It looked as though it had once been an army base or a prisoner of war camp. That was certainly how it was run. They had paid good money to be smuggled into Britain and had been promised work. And after a while they would be able to stay permanently if they wanted. But why had their passports been confiscated and why were they not permitted to leave the site? They were allowed to receive letters from home - they were brought in from a town they had never heard of. They soon realised their families did not know where they were. Letters were censored. They were allowed to write home but could only say they were well, enjoying the work and making lots of money. Any protests were met with threats. Their mobile phones had been confiscated as soon as they arrived at the camp. To outsiders and inspectors, the place looked like a poultry farm, which it was. It is the Spring Bank Holiday. It seems to bring them out: singletons secretly scribbling in notebooks. It is the 'strada effect' - they mustn't miss a thing; they mustn't let their lives get away from them; they mustn't forget a thing: the drama of the setting, the whole South Bank thing, the National Theatre, the National Film Theatre, Tate Modern, the book stalls, the Thames. They all seem to be young. They are tucked away in corners, huddled behind walls, squatting on grass verges, cradled in the arms of statues, pretending to be out of sight; the writers of our great future, keeping diaries, making notes, getting it all down on paper. Hopefuls, carpediemists. How I envy them! If it was only envy . Leaning against the side of the cabin with her back turned away from Tom, Carrie stared down at the water, watching as the blunt edge of the prow nudged clumsily through the Vs of unpredictable furrows. She was trying her hardest to appear interested the way she expected her bored pupils to. Nothing more. She had come up on deck without meeting Tom's eyes. She sensed they were on her now, waiting for her to turn. With her happy face. That was not going to happen. Like a child hoping for a way out of a good sulk, she had to wait. She had done enough; she had done her part, by coming on deck. But she could not look up; the beauty of the scenery would break her heart. In time, Tom would make the right move. Ieva had finished her early morning shift in hen-house number 6 and would clean out another six after her ten minute break. Barely enough time for her eyes to recover from the acrid fumes emitted by the dung, which stung her nostrils and kept her on the verge of nausea. Barely enough time to see if Stefan, her overseer, was holding a letter from home. He would be pretending he wasn't. If letters came for anyone, it was the women who had to collect them. But first they had to beg. With his slicked back, greasy hair and appearance they had likened to that of a slug, he had learnt the value of each letter and could exact the appropriate price. A letter from a lover was worth the most. But how could they say not to write so often, without arousing mistrust, suspicion? A queue of young women waited nervously outside Stefan's office. They knew by now the order in which to wait. Ieva was one of the first to be called in. It was a letter from her mother, handed over with the customary close attention to avuncular care against which Ieva had little or no defence. At least, she knew how to affect an off-putting coldness, which so far had kept his hands at bay. Tom kept his hands on the wheel. He did not make the right move. He did not make any move. He had to steer the barge, at least for the time being. It was the one part of the test he felt he could cope with. But as the minutes passed, and with Carrie remaining motionless in her need, the more his anxiety increased and the more powerless and worthless he felt. There had to be an intervention, he thought; some sort of fucking deus ex machina was what he needed. He viewed the scenery longing to see a wharf, a campsite, an inn, but only perceived the monotony of trees and fields, unremitting in their disregard, and the silent slick of the canal, as sluggish and scornful as a brown river-god. Perhaps these scribblers, too, will have their day and finally end up on the second hand bookstalls, where they will undoubtedly be content to settle for temporary immortality, it being better than none. She did not get past the first few words of the letter. She did not read the rest. If Ieva ever, later in her life, tried to describe the pain she felt at that moment, she would never succeed. Nor would she remember how she managed to find her way back to the chicken shed. How she managed not to stumble, not to cry out until she had closed the door behind her and let herself fall to the floor. Then she could let out the bellow of agony that was contorting her stomach, and grip her sides so tightly as if to hold her violently shaking body together. Section supervisors were under strict orders to ignore malingerers with sob stories but this one was different. Seeing the distress Ieva was in, she soon got word to Arturas who would have to risk losing a week's pay for stopping work. He was out of breath from running the long route which he had to take round the outside of the outhouses to avoid detection. Smoke from the incinerator still clung to his overalls when he entered the chicken shed and found Ieva in a corner, her sides heaving with long sobs, her eyes staring at a small, slightly crumpled photograph of their child. It was not stubbornness which made Tom hold out so long; it was fear. Longer than he'd ever held out before. Fear of getting it wrong. Of saying the wrong thing. He'd not seen this rigidity before, the rigidity with which Carrie was hanging onto the cabin rail and staring down at the canal. This was alarming. He switched off the engine and let the barge slow down. Another few minutes passed before the barge had slowed down enough for him to steer it to rest gently against the canal wall. The four of us have come to the end of a pleasant afternoon. Before parting, we pause again at the bookstalls, exchange words about books we have read or mean to. I am recommended an author whose name I immediately forget. It was no longer possible for them to stay. To make their escape, they met again under cover of dark at the incineration section, where Arturas knew he could easily force open a gap in the fence. Carrying their small backpacks with the few clothes and little money and food they had, they skirted the edges of several fields, picking out paths and climbing over stiles by moonlight. They were greatly relieved when at last they reached a canal as they would have a better chance of travelling along a towpath undetected than if they attempted to follow a road. And a canal also could take them to a big city. With no sense of which way to go, but propelled by an urgency to find a town as soon as possible, Ieva and Arturas proceeded as best they could along the towpath. The going was not easy, the path being draped in almost complete darkness where the ill-maintained hedgerows obscured the moonlight, and it was hazardous underfoot where years of neglect had left it uneven and treacherously overgrown. Like a spasmodic flash from an ailing lighthouse, only the occasional sombre glint from the canal's brooding surface permitted them some tentative sense of direction. After a while, they reached a clearing where the hedgerow came to an end and they entered an open area. Dimly making out an assortment of boats, barges, rudders and engine parts which lay over a large area, they reckoned they had come into a repairer's yard, possibly long abandoned, and moving cautiously between various large and jagged objects in disrepair and dismemberment, looked, or felt, for somewhere to sit for a while and rest, and found an upturned rowing-boat. It wasn't ideal for sitting on, more for leaning against, as they ate a few of their biscuits and shared their bottle of water. There was a slipway leading down to the canal to which they dragged the rowing-boat, having found a pair of oars underneath. Tom placed himself quietly next to Carrie, and like her, stood leaning against the side of the cabin and stared down into the dark pit of water. It seemed like an enormous task, to find the right words, to make the right move. But there were no words; no coherent thoughts were forming, only the sensation of his mind turning over, reeling as if intoxicated. Suddenly the sensation hit him like a kick to the stomach and he found himself sobbing uncontrollably from depths he'd never known before. Carrie turned and held him in her arms, like a child. At last. The barge seemed deserted when Arturas and Ieva climbed on board. They were very relieved when the couple kindly let them stay. As soon as it was dawn, they decided they should get as far away as their strength would allow with the rowing-boat, then try to hide it in case it gave them away. They took turns to row but finally they stopped when they found their way blocked by lock-gates. These they used to hold onto and haul themselves out of the boat and back onto the towpath. They tried pulling on the bow-rope but the boat proved too heavy to lift. By now they were desperately tired and hungry, and there was no sign ahead of a town where they might find help. Perhaps those two people could help them again. They would hide behind some hedges and wait, leaving the boat where it was. One last desultory glance at the books and I am astonished to come across a copy of 'Elegies' by Douglas Dunn, the poems he wrote following the death of his wife. ''What on earth is this doing here? How can people part with books like this? It won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award in 1985!'' ''Probably a house clearance,'' James remarks, ''a job lot.'' The slender volume flicks open at 'Reading Pascal in the Lowlands'. My eyes fall once again on the lines: 'It is discourteous to ask about Accidents, or of the sick, the unfortunate. I do not need to, for he says ''Leukaemia''. We look at the river, his son holding a rod, The line going downstream in a cloud of flies.' Tom and Carrie resumed their journey, intending to stop somewhere for lunch. As they approached the first lock-gates of the day, they saw two people frantically waving at them from the tow path and recognised them as the foreign couple who had spent the night on their barge. Once on board, Ieva and Arturas explained their story and why they urgently needed to get back to their country. ''We will help you get back home,'' said Carrie. Ieva showed Carrie and Tom the photograph of their daughter. Carrie gave Ieva a hug. It was the right move. Tom would make his. In time. Somewhere, a young doctor is making his way down a hospital corridor to speak to the parents of a child. His white coat is flapping as he walks. He is carrying a file with the results of a test. As he draws closer, he changes direction abruptly and comes back a few minutes later, having got his face right. To give bad news. I snap out of my reverie and replace the book. Our day out has ended. We say goodbye and return to our homes.
Archived comments for Story in Three Fonts
Bonnie on 14-06-2014
Story in Two Fonts
This is excellent. I became very involved with the characters, and the way the tale is told enhances the story.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Bonnie. I appreciate it.
Regards, Gerald.

expat on 15-06-2014
Story in Two Fonts
Agree - the side-by-side format works well. Is this a stand-alone story or part of a longer piece? I ask because Tom's sudden breakdown/Carrie's reaction and the last few lines seemed a little rushed.
There are a few lapses into the passive voice in places, which takes away the immediacy of your writing, but otherwise a well-written piece with no grammar, punctuation or spelling errors. Not a lot of dialogue but what there was came over convincingly.
I liked this:[the gravel path emitted an agreeable crunching noise underfoot.] A small pleasure and very true. Carrie's hinted-at depression (possibly related to a miscarriage or infant death?) keeps the reader intrigued.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, expat. you're right - the original version is longer. I have uploaded it in place of the two-strand version if you'd like to read it. As an English and Modern Language teacher for 44 years, I'm not convinced there's anything amiss with using the passive voice. If we don't use it, we'll lose it, in my opinion.

Regards, Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 18-06-2014
Story in Three Fonts
Gerald.... One of your very best; I loved it. The different threads worked for me, each in its own way entwined with the others. The story itself I found held me. I read it on my iPhone, (not easy) I will give it another on my desk top later. 5,000 words is a lot on screen is my only comment/ critique, in saying that I'm not sure I would have done it differently.
Great writing Gerald
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Mike. I'm so pleased this has been noticed at last. I must have posted it about three or four times already. It started as a task I set an English class ( 14 year olds ) six years to write about a holiday. I had to have a go at it myself. It was hard work.

You're right - it's hard to read this on an iPhone. The South Bank section appeared separately on 4th November as A Visit to the South Bank. You've read it before.

Cheers, Gerald


'On the Road' (posted on: 13-06-14)


Vue senior club: the weekly cinema foyer sit-in, waiting for the film to start. Special concession, biscuits and tea or coffee included. Getting there early is easy when there are no weekends only ends of weeks and days lose their names as they're counted down. And it's better to sit through a film they don't get than sit through the sameness they've left at home because some fool told them over the fence they need to get out more and a change is as good as a rest. When the film starts it's too late to decide it's not their sort of film: they're not going to walk out even though the actors are getting more out of life than they ever did, taking drugs like they didn't dare, having sex like they never had, and travelling more than they ever did. At the end they'll stagger out back to the comfort of home they were keen to get out of earlier, and because they'd like to live their life over again, they'll mutter ever so quietly all to themselves: it's all right for some.

Archived comments for 'On the Road'
sweetwater on 13-06-2014
A Viewing of the film On the Road
I think you have completely hit the nail on the head with this one, do you go there often? just wondering as you sound very knowledgeable on the subject. An insightful and fun read.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, sweetwater. I'm a fairly regular cinema-goer but I've only been to a couple of Vue Senior Club films. "On the Road" was one one of their better offerings but, judging by the amount of tut-tutting going on, not what people in the audience was expecting.

Mikeverdi on 13-06-2014
A Viewing of the film On the Road
Not reached this stage yet, but I can see the need; just hope I shuffle off before then. A sad look at old age Gerald; but I would have loved 'On the Road' Kerouac was my learning curve.
Nice writing old friend
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks fro commenting, Mike. Usually film shown at the Vue Senior Club (only on Tuesdays ) ( You're old enough to be a member, aren't you - no joining fee - only age ) are not worth seeing - my wife and I choose which ones to goto very carefully. Some old folk turn up regardless of what the film is because it's cheap. "On the Road" came as a bit of a shock to some of them. Quite a good film, you'd probably find it's quite cheap to buy now. I started re-reading the book but found it's lost it's appeal now.

Running out of material these days and therefore not posting as often.

Regards, Gerald.


Distemper (posted on: 21-04-14)
Distemper: early type of paint before emulsion; a deranged condition of mind

From the age of mangles and kitchen pulleys, it had a smell as unforgettable as steam on washing days, which were always Mondays - four pale green walls of it in the booming back bedroom where she used to leave him. Still, he had a friend to wave to in the wardrobe mirror, a silent, sobbing, bar-rattling partner in distemper, when she didn't come. That cot was a godsend, housework took all day, she said, as she proudly remembered his first memory - a woman's achievement nothing would take away.

Archived comments for Distemper
stormwolf on 21-04-2014
Distemper
Hi Gerald,
I had to read it several times and on each reading it added more to the story. I think it needs (deserves) several readings.
It is very moving (especially middle stanza)
well deserving of the nib.
I love poems that leave the reader with strong feelings.

Alison x


Author's Reply:
Thanks, Alison. This is a re-post. An old one. No new ones at present, too busy looking after the wife with the broken leg. I'm getting plenty of extra exercise, up and down stairs, etc. Not much time for reading on UKA.
Almost wrote this sad story in the first person.
Gerald.

Pelequin23 on 21-04-2014
Distemper
excellent storytelling conveying deep feelings ,great work

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Pelequin23. Did you see my PM about your comment on a poem which is no longer there?
Cheers, Nemo.

pdemitchell on 21-04-2014
Distemper
Gerald, a great distillation of an era and story in sepia-tints with the bakelite radio and its glow-valved tones in the background.... Mitch 🙂

Author's Reply:
And the kitchen range, the tin bath in front of the fire, two deliveries of post per day, ration books ...... Thanks for commenting, mitch.
Cheers, Gerald.

Bozzz on 23-04-2014
Distemper
Distemper, yes, the poor man's paint, low fat milk. I enjoyed the tinned bath beside the kitchen stove, kettle on hob. Wot, no telephone or dry Martini to hand? Thank you Gerald for a taste of yesterday's semi-posh....David

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, David. Thanks for commenting.
Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 23-04-2014
Distemper
I lived through these times, you tell these stories so well Gerald. I grew up in a hut with a tin roof, no electricity and a pump for water. Until I was five its all I knew. I remember all the things you write about as if they were yesterday; they weren't all bad. 🙂
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. You' re right , things weren' t all bad, but remember how cold houses were in winter, especially upstairs, the ice inside the windows.
Gerald.

pommer on 27-04-2014
Distemper
Like Alison I read and re-read your poem.I started remembering all those things from my own past.Things were not easy in those days, but we all survived and look back with a certain amount of fondness
and nostalgia.A well composed piece of writing.I enjoyed it. Be lucky, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Peter, though this was not a very fond memory. Thanks for commenting,
Gerald.


Calling in the Cat (posted on: 18-04-14)
Jocularity with rhyme for someone who called free verse her Bte Noire

That's my old Bte Noire sulking on the wall, scornfully resisting my every call. I've tried her with couplets, to no effect; another type of rhyme I must select. She's turned up her nose at my choice free verse, she considers it tasteless and perverse. I'll see if another rhyme scheme will work. Oh, she has her claws out ready to strike; antique inverted verse this cat doth irk, and she'll refuse a line that ends with like. ( Into a sonnet's where this is heading! ) Perhaps it's on half-rhymes she needs feeding, so, I will tempt her in with one more line: come in, silly Bte Noire, don't be a pain.

Archived comments for Calling in the Cat
Pelequin23 on 18-04-2014
Reunion
never should we forget even after all the years...

Author's Reply:

stormwolf on 19-04-2014
Calling in the Cat
OMG I feel a real sense of aggrievement here.

The saying cannot please everyone springs to mind.;-)

Alison x


Author's Reply:
Not at all, Alison. There is no aggrievement at play whatsoever. It's a spoof response to someone's use of the phrase 'bete noire' beginning with a parody of 'That's my last duchess painted on the wall.' I wrote it a couple of years ago for someone on another site. Perhaps it doesn't work out of context.
Thanks for stopping by, Gerald.

Bozzz on 20-04-2014
Calling in the Cat
Works fine for me, you cunning bugger ! Afraid posterity says free verse once read, quickly forgotten - no hooks to hang on to. You are saved at last - again - but only by the skin of your incisors - molar grinders remain at risk. Great fun my friend....David

Author's Reply:
Thanks for your approval of this little effort, David. You must be right: " free verse once read, quickly forgotten" - after all, T.S.Eliot's free verse, whoever remembers that?
Cheers, Gerald.

Bozzz on 20-04-2014
Calling in the Cat
Works fine for me, you cunning bugger ! Afraid posterity says free verse once read, quickly forgotten - no hooks to hang on to. You are saved at last - again - but only by the skin of your incisors - molar grinders remain at risk. Great fun my friend....David

Author's Reply:

chant_z on 02-05-2014
Calling in the Cat
Playful piece on a serious note. Much appreciated. Thanks!

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked this, thanks for commenting, chant_z.
Gerald


Going to the Hop (posted on: 14-04-14)
In search of lost time

In those days it was thrilling, after a beer or two, as we turned the corner, like grown men, to hear the band playing Buddy Holly. For it sounded raw in the young evening air, but we, too, were raw, raw all-boys-school boys, mere monosyllabic boys, like our names, Bill, Bri, Mel, Jed and Fred. And we stuck out like one word headlines on the tabloid walls of the pounding hall. Girls were frighteningly pretty and mysteriously multisyllabic, clustering in paragraphs of incomprehensible complex sentences in the editorial of the dance floor. Hard boys, with safe distance boldness, we eyed up and shared out the ones we fancied, from where we dithered. But you flushed and quivered with spot-conscious bashfulness if you were invited to dance, and then what if you couldn't jive and your mates were jeering at the side, and what if you didn't know what to do when the dance finished, and what were you to do if she saved the last dance for you?

Archived comments for Going to the Hop
Pelequin23 on 14-04-2014
Going to the Hop
captured innocence on the cusp of change

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, pelequin23.
Nemo

sweetwater on 14-04-2014
Going to the Hop
Very nice, an interesting insight to teenage boys, that we girls never understood. Such innocence is sadly lost today. Sue X.

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Sue.
Gerald

Mikeverdi on 14-04-2014
Going to the Hop
Love this again Gerald , you know how to do this stuff so well; your use of metaphor is excellent.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Well done for remembering this, Mike, one from 12 months ago, slightly revised. Thanks for commenting, Gerald.

Bozzz on 14-04-2014
Going to the Hop
I was an arm pumper - still would be if I had the chance. Oh those perfumed bodies. Reminiscences of shame - I never recovered. Lovely stuff Gerald....David

Author's Reply:
Perfumed bodies, yes, and lots of missed chances. Thanks for commenting, David.
Gerald.

pdemitchell on 14-04-2014
Going to the Hop
The first part of stanza two was awesome - reminding me of the days where every adolescent boy was left feeliing sexually inferior to the handbag around which their lofty sirens shimmied. Mitch

Author's Reply:
Worse if you were from an all boys' school. Thanks for commenting, Mitch.
Cheers, Gerald.

stormwolf on 15-04-2014
Going to the Hop
A walk down adolescent memory lane. Enjoyed
Alison x

Author's Reply:
Pleased you enjoyed it, Alison.
Gerald.

Kipper on 15-04-2014
Going to the Hop
Oh yes, I remember it well. Girls were always three steps ahead of the boys, somehow more aware!
In an odd kind of way it was a rite of passage for the boys, something we had to endure like having (when you couldn't put it off any longer) to shave. It's all there in your poem.
Well done
Michael

Author's Reply:
Thank you for commenting. Michael. I'm pleased my poem brought something back for you.
Gerald.


In Queen Square (posted on: 04-04-14)


We wait for a child sleeping after treatment and have come to this quiet garden for respite. The bench is chilled in the moist autumn air. The Communard-beret'd path-sweeper approaches. Where's the plaque, I ask, that was here last time? (It marked the place where a Zeppelin bomb made a crater and narrowly missed a hospital.) Leaves twitch and worry at the huge circular cover. Council took it, he says, brushing away the leaves, and unrecorded history is hushed past our ears - like not reporting a giant asteroid missing the earth by a mere million miles - in case they rattle the brittle pots of anxiety we've gingerly shelved at the back of our lives.
( Queen Square, London, hit by a bomb in 1915, this decorative square is in front of the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and just round the corner from Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children )
Archived comments for In Queen Square
Pelequin23 on 06-04-2014
Queen Square Revisited
so much forgotten so much lost

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Pelequin23.
Nemo.


The Legacy of Billy Liddell (posted on: 28-03-14)


I'd been proudly keeping my Meccano, as an heirloom in an heirloom of a suitcase, thought I'd have kids who would use it, and then show their kids, but Meccano's rusty metal demised out of fashion and Lego on the carpet immured it in the loft. Seven Christmases and birthdays of patience to get from from set three to nine, then the only presents I wanted had to stop; too expensive to get to ten, even with the electric motor not included. Make do with clockwork, they said. Invited Earnshaw in to see my crane, could help me build something else, but wanted to play out instead. Called himself Billy Liddell, can't recall who I was, a third division goalie, I think, chasing balls down the alley. Suddenly the match would be over: time for a bout of boxing, alley walls for ropes, beating me up till they called us in for tea. Next day at the door, was I coming out to play, or watch television his dad was first to get, and his sister growing tits and going out. Dropped me like a manager for moving house, from best friend to occasional nods at school; five years with his new team and then he left. Heart attack, my mother said one day over tea. Dribbling between goals, a women in each, drilling one past remorse, only fucking thirty-two.

Archived comments for The Legacy of Billy Liddell
MrMarmite on 28-03-2014
The Legacy of Billy Liddell
Hi Nemo. This reminds me of my childhood Meccano and Lego,and remember Blow Football ?Us kids were football mad and we'd be over the fields till dark,and when the wrestling finished on the telly we'd be staging our own bouts knocking the hell out of each other.No silly nanny state then or health and safety,looking back we were as tough as old boots as we would fall out of trees and off bikes,but just get back on and get stuck in. great days ! thanks for bringing it back. Kevin.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Kevin. You might be a bit younger than me. I was pre-Lego and almost pre-TV. We got our first telly for the coronation. There were very few cars so it was safe to play out in the streets.
Cheers, Gerald.

Bonnie on 29-03-2014
The Legacy of Billy Liddell
This brings back memories of the anarchy of childhood! I remember being able to play outside because there were hardly any cars - I regret my own children couldn't do this.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Bonnie.
Regards, Nemo.

jdm4454 on 29-03-2014
The Legacy of Billy Liddell
Memories seem to be the same from this side of the pond also...our game was baseball. There was the same all day playing; the fights came, at times, before the game; even during the game, but always after the game........ubiquitous memorabilia.....another great mundane, daily experience written up beautifully

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, jim. And thanks for the rate!
Gerald.


Neighbourhood Watch (posted on: 24-03-14)


Still in my pyjamas, still here. Been reading online poems. Only just made my second coffee. Retired neighbour walking past my house, upright as ever and dressed for the day. Can't tell if he's deep in thought, or if he's deep. Can't tell what he's planned, if he's planned anything for today, after he's read the paper. Collects it at the Indian's on the Broadway, not at the other one on the corner, though it's nearer, must be a reason. Perhaps later he'll drive off with his thin wife, somewhere they think is nice. Had his car serviced by Dave over the road, got that sorted yesterday. Heard him with a power-saw last Sunday, improvements at his age, must be a point. Flies a flag in his garden. Might be an online poet. You can never tell.

Archived comments for Neighbourhood Watch
Mikeverdi on 24-03-2014
Keeping the Flag Flying
Am I dreaming or did I read this before Gerald? I like it anyway 🙂
Mike

Author's Reply:
This is a new one, Mike, only posted today. Glad you liked it.
Gerald

Ah ha, just remembered ... Rushing to print, I posted this first very briefly last Friday - you must have got in quick - then I replaced it with the Sibelius poem because I realised I needed to do more work on it.

MrMarmite on 24-03-2014
Keeping the Flag Flying
You can't beat some people watching can you ?
I find it's better when you don't know the person you're watching,as you can then imagine them as a spy or something dangerous. Funny you mention a flag in his garden,as down the road by me there was someone flying flags of different countries for about a year,then it stopped.Mysterious ! nice poem by the way. Kevin.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Kevin. Mysterious people, one's neighbours. Thanks for commenting and for the rate.
Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 24-03-2014
Keeping the Flag Flying
I knew I had, it was early... We all read our favourite authors first 🙂
Mike

Author's Reply:
Nice

pdemitchell on 25-03-2014
Keeping the Flag Flying
Ha, Gerald - nicely jointed, disjointed and downright qwerty - sorry, quirky suburby observational dip, nip, slip and tuck and that thin wife... she might secretely be collecting doileys. Mitch 😀

Author's Reply:
Yes, quirky. Thanks, mitch.
Gerald


Frayed Cords (posted on: 21-03-14)


If I went back, I could show them where the air raid shelter used to be, my father's shed ankle-deep in perfumed shavings, and the exact spot on the wall where our cat would chatter at birds taunting him in the cherry tree, or do his post-cattery sulks. They wouldn't want to know, I suspect, that the house used to have sash windows and that my father used a holiday to replace the frayed cords, that the alien-eyed gas masks I used to play with were kept in the cupboard under the stairs next to the broken gramophone with the HMV ear-trumpet and 78s in finger-worn paper sleeves. A house with a crystal set history, faint, crackling, distant voices, pre-war and pre-war making do and mending, mental scars, and physical scars, like the grooves lumbering coal-carts gouged in the alley-walls that were our fielders in summer and wingers in winter. That the gentle giant of a shire waiting where now they park their car smelt like newly baked bread and pawed the road with a restless foot, while the bread man chatted to my mother and winked at me, as he lifted the flap of his leather satchel and rooted for a farthing change, they wouldn't want to know. That the coal-shed smelt like a coal-mine, that a freshly cleft stump of coal was history in your hand, as far removed from the lives of flat-screen folk as beating carpets in the back yard and wringing washing with a mangle, they wouldn't want to know.

Archived comments for Frayed Cords
Mikeverdi on 21-03-2014
Frayed Cords
Oh yes Gerald , you do these so well; memories come flooding back. The last is the best for me, I nearly cried with the thoughts it brought back. I saw my mother young again;
wonderful writing. Congrats on the Nib.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Mike. Didn't mean to upset you. Thanks for the rate!
Cheers, Gerald.

sweetwater on 21-03-2014
Frayed Cords
I feel as if I have just emerged from a time capsule, that poem was so 'real' loved every memory. One of the most fascinating poem I have read. Sue.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for.stopping by and commenting, Sue. Pleased you liked it.
Gerald.

pdemitchell on 21-03-2014
Frayed Cords
Holy Doctor Who, Manbat! This is a sepia syllable-syllabub smeared upon the 2-D presence of us flat-screen folk. Awesome imagery of the shire horse wreathed in bread-aroma. Bravo Gerald. mitch

Author's Reply:
Wow, mitch, "This is a sepia syllable-syllabub smeared upon the 2-D presence of us flat-screen folk" - this is pure poetry! Many thanks, pleased you liked it.
Gerald.

Bozzz on 21-03-2014
Frayed Cords
As ever between us, Gerald, gorgeous prose disguised as a poem, ah well, afraid that is what the world has come to expect. Who am I to say no, but I will not often take the easy path myself - and may suffer for that ! Cheers...David

Author's Reply:
Fings ain't what they used to be, are they, David? Oh for a good rhyme and a nicely metred line. Perhaps we need some new categories on UKA, Proper Poetry and Pretend Poetry and Crap? Always enjoyable to read your comments.
Cheers, Gerald.

jdm4454 on 21-03-2014
Frayed Cords
Wow! The imagery is so stark and realistic. I was born in 1943 so I have no memory of any of that, my Dad was in Belgium during the Bulge, and I have read so much about it, and so much about the air raids in England... I love this - it's lilke looking at a picture --- well done, thanks for the read. jim

"that the alien-eyed gas masks
I used to play with were kept
in the cupboard under the stairs
next to the broken gramophone
with the HMV ear-trumpet
and 78s in finger-worn paper sleeves."

Author's Reply:
Thanks, jim. Yes, this is very much early fifties England. I, too, was born in '43. Does this make us "old"? pleased I'm you liked the poem.

Gerald.

usutu on 21-03-2014
Frayed Cords
In sat in front of my flat screen with a broad smile on my face. Thank You Gerald,

U'sutu.

Author's Reply:
One of those TVs they stick on the wall? Hard to think what can get more modern than that. Sorry to hear about your broad grin. Hope it's not too painful. Don't let it turn into a bored yawn as that can lead to lock-jaw.
Regards, Gerald.

Ionicus on 22-03-2014
Frayed Cords
Proper Poetry and Pretend Poetry and Crap? Why not go a step further and have Pretentious Poetry? Then every author could find his/her niche.
Cheers.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Luigi, didn't need to include that as we are all pretentious whatever category we post in. I know, you're thinking 'All poets are pretentious, but some are more .......' Can't win, can we?
Thanks for the moment, Gerald.

Popeye on 23-03-2014
Frayed Cords
Sue mentioned a time capsule, and this would be a great asset to be included in one. I was born in 1954, but this evoked memories of my childhood. I was wondering if pre-war and pre-war is there to encapsulate two wars, or if you meant to write pre-war and post-war. Excellent work either way 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Popeye. "pre-war and pre-war" is what I meant - it's an old house. Thanks for commenting, Gerald.

Popeye on 23-03-2014
Frayed Cords
Thank you for the clarification 🙂

Author's Reply:

Tasha-ann on 23-03-2014
Frayed Cords
The imagery invoked was excellent I enjoyed this a lot

Author's Reply:
Thanks for your comment. Glad you liked it.
Gerald.


Sibelius' Seventh (posted on: 21-03-14)


The time has come twilight and mist home in on his longship prow pointed towards the eye of the sunset a faint glimmer through the smoke his black cat we placed at his feet amber eyes loving him she braces herself loyalty he never had to demand unflinching as the flames close in

Archived comments for Sibelius' Seventh
jdm4454 on 21-03-2014
Sibelius Seventh
excellent -- I like the way it reads...no capitalization...no punctuation, carried with its own ambiguous rythm.jim


ps - my cat has been my best friend for the last 21 years and 364 days - tomorrow's her birthday.

Author's Reply:
A bit different. Thanks, jim. Is your cat descended from the one on the Mayflower?
Gerald.

Bozzz on 21-03-2014
Sibelius Seventh
Sibelius 7 - For me, the one that is an interminable sequence of musical endings - your first line captures that. Land Ho? But, no, the extra knot needed - the Viking spirit.

Author's Reply:
David, this may not be a poem, but thanks for commenting. Anything that helps promote this amazing symphony.
Gerald

pdemitchell on 22-03-2014
Sibelius Seventh
Wow, Gerald, less is often more. A sparse ode but good when read aloud with a ridmic vivid imagery. Mitch

Author's Reply:
Thanks for your approval. mitch.
Gerald

Popeye on 23-03-2014
Sibelius Seventh
I am not familiar with the symphony, bu I enjoyed the write 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Popeye. I strongly recommend the symphony. Gerald

Mikeverdi on 23-03-2014
Sibelius Seventh
May give it a go myself after this! Job done Gerald 🙂
Mike

Author's Reply:
What, you're going to have a Viking funeral? Oh, you mean the symphony, and number 5 while you're at it, and Vaughan Williams' 5th and so many more .... Cheers, Gerald.


My Copy of the Proust (posted on: 17-03-14)
A letter

Sorry I've kept you waiting for the Proust. Remember, you wanted it after me - the three volume Pliade edition I borrowed under my donkey-jacket from the library in '62. I got to page 100 a few years ago but started again. To savour the full flavour of the language. Of course. I'm on page 57 and Tante Lonie has been looking through her window at the people in the street. She speculates about their every move and tells Franoise, her maid. Riveting stuff. Only 3000 or so pages to go and then I can start on the other 999 books stacked round the house to be read before I die. Always meant to tell you about that time in Switzerland when Wogga Williams gave out our o'level results: you thought I could see you through the frosted glass of the toilet window and took your revenge by shoving sawdust on to my head from a hole in the hotel loft floor while I was on the toilet. Except I couldn't see you and therefore an apology is still due from you, even over fifty years later. I know you got my last letter. I had to tell you I was angry that you didn't get your brother to let me know about your stroke. Fantastic of him to put shelves up in your room. All the way from Toronto. Still got all those books, eh? I don't blame you never getting a job, you had all them to get through. And your unpublished novels. And the impenetrable sonnets. I bet you've lost all my poems. Those booklets I sent you? Remember, I phoned you to check that you'd received my letter, just after Christmas. You said you had. I'm sorry my chatting made you tired. You said you'd phone back the next day. But you didn't. And I had made a special point of getting the nurse to write down my number. I'm sorry you don't know what happened to your daughter. It's good that her mother, who you wouldn't marry, tried to look after her despite her appalling disability. I thought you might have remembered to ask about my daughter's misfortunes. She had a stroke, too, remember? I think there's quite few things you've forgotten. Like that time, I bet, in the Latin lesson when I was translating aloud and you kept trying to put me off by lifting your desk top and letting out the choking smell of your rancid gym towel. Anyway, I thought that now they have provided you with a phone in the home, we could pick up our chats again from fifty years ago. When you get your speech back properly. Remember our chats, books, girls and books? And being dumped? Strolling round the north end of Birkenhead. Funny how I miss that town. I could even drive up the M6 and see you. Last time was when I dropped by on my way home after my father's funeral. Thirty years ago. You were scrounging off that reporter in Stoke. He wasn't happy because you never helped in the house. He had a few moans, I can tell you. Trouble was, he never appreciated your good points. Wasn't right to expect a literary genius like you to muck in. Anyway, I hope you've managed to read this letter. You could always dictate a reply to the nice nurse if you still haven't got the use of your hand back. See, my address is at the top. You bastard.
Archived comments for My Copy of the Proust
Andrea on 17-03-2014
My Copy of the Proust
I like it. Short, punchy sentences. Nice 🙂

Author's Reply:

Mikeverdi on 18-03-2014
My Copy of the Proust
Loved it Gerald, I see that the Liverpool area turns up quite a lot in you're work, any reason for this; home perhaps?
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. Lived there till 1970. People from Birkenhead are fiercely nothing to do with Liverpool. My mother-in-law was from Birkenhead and when I foolishly referred her strong Merseyside twang as sounding like a Scouse accent, she said, 'Do you mind, I don't come from Liverpool!'
Cheers, Gerald


Non Sequiturs on a Saturday Afternoon (posted on: 17-03-14)


A sprinkling of spring sunshine and I bet people have already forgotten there was misery on the roads yesterday because of fog, but I'm not forgetting my best friend's had a stroke and can't even remember that in the espresso-bar where we used to hang out, Tommy Trinder kept his trilby on while he chatted to the owner. My dogs yank me past bad taste in music from open windows, so I am wondering if I should be grieving a little because a young couple's shiny new car makes mine a year older, or more so, because someone has left an Australian beer can on a soggy mattress on the grass verge next to the paddock where a bored Alsatian barks at me ten times and gives up. Car doors slam behind me as barbecue-goers spill out and whoop very loudly because they think it's necessary for acting happy and the house they visit is bloody good at hiding its history of grief.

Archived comments for Non Sequiturs on a Saturday Afternoon
pdemitchell on 17-03-2014
Non Sequiturs on a Saturday Afternoon
A powerful and bitter-poignant observational piece with a sharp coda-stanza. A good read. Mitch

Author's Reply:

jdm4454 on 17-03-2014
Non Sequiturs on a Saturday Afternoon
I like the feel of this one stark, descriptive, and economy of syllables...well stated. jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks, jim. So I've been economical with the syllables ..... I like it....... Economics with the syllabics...... The syllabics of economics......The Management of Syllabic Economics by Kurt Wordcount ......
Gerald

Mikeverdi on 19-03-2014
Non Sequiturs on a Saturday Afternoon
I've read this several times now, I can't say why but it just doesn't do it for me Gerald. As you know this is a first for me, and I pondered on saying it; I guess you can't win them all. Just me I expect... Grumpy old sod 🙂
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks for trying, Mike. I can understand why it might not come across - it is a lumping together of non sequiturs, after all.
Better luck on Friday, eh?
Gerald


The Friday Poetry Circle (posted on: 14-03-14)


Do I know Mad Malcolm? Yes, and we still talk about him at our weekly do's. Connie's usually the one who starts, reminding us about the time when he brought in a poem to share but, really weird, he'd painted it onto a canvas he'd specially braced, all proper professional-like. He reckoned he'd packed in a lifetime's experience, good Samaritan attentive as he was to every cry, his backwash of starry similes radiating wisdom from the beginning of time, his beaded metaphors glistening on tingling telephone wires like raindrops of succour, and all that. Derek - he has to get over his fit of giggling first - tells how Malcolm sneaked it into Tate Modern and saw him lurking in a corner, miming a hooded statue scowling at the visitors as they silently shuffled past him, (who comes up with these crazy exhibits?) till the gallery closed. Mavis always maintains he muttered something unrepeatable about Philistines, wrenched his poem off the wall and sulked all the way home. Back? No, he's never been back, but we still talk about him.

Archived comments for The Friday Poetry Circle
Bozzz on 14-03-2014
The Friday Circle
Very witty, Gerald, great idea, great fun. Minor excess - three lll's at one point. Much enjoyed, David

Author's Reply:
Thanks, David. Pleased you liked it. Good spot with the extra l's.
Regards, Gerald

Mikeverdi on 14-03-2014
The Friday Circle
Different, interesting and well put together.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. Different? I'm looking up what that means. Ha.
Gerald.

pdemitchell on 14-03-2014
The Friday Circle
I loved this, Sir Gerald! A witty ditty and inventive to the max but the punctuation and complex sentence in the first stanza snagged my read through but that's just me and a micro-niggle that did not detract overall from top notch hopscotch observational. Mitch

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, mitch. I agree there's a long sentence in the first stanza but I think it reads aloud all.right. I do tend do a few long sentences but I check them out by declaiming them at the top of my voice at the bottom of my garden after dark.
Regards, Gerald

Savvi on 14-03-2014
The Friday Circle
This has a freshness I like and I would like to join the circle (please) it sounds like fun. The last line made me think of shawshank not sure why but it did. Best Keith

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Keith. I'm pleased you liked it. The circle only accepts nutters. And failed poets. Sorry.
Gerald

Ionicus on 15-03-2014
The Friday Circle
A well described observation of an odd-ball character belonging to a literary circle who believes that his talent is so superior to that of his fellow members that if his work doesn't get the appreciation he thinks it deserves it can only be that its detractors are nothing but Philistines. A good read.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Luigi. No-one we recognise. Gerald.

Kipper on 17-03-2014
The Friday Circle
Yes I remember Malcolm, he was on our arts committee as well.
Very well observed characterisation of a well known individual who seems to get around.
Malco......oops......Michael



Author's Reply:
Sadly overlooked, poor man. Relieved to hear he's still around, at least. Thanks, Gerald.

Kipper on 17-03-2014
The Friday Circle
Yes I remember Malcolm, he was on our arts committee as well.
Very well observed characterisation of a well known individual who seems to get around.
Malco......oops......Michael



Author's Reply:


The Game of Solitaire (posted on: 10-03-14)
I'm calling this a poem, and it's long.

When is an uncle not an uncle? Answer: when he's your auntie's husband and she's your dad's sister so I must have some of her in me, not that I could tell in nineteen fifty-three, especially with her sort of bacon I had to come downstairs to with my stomach turning over, after I'd just been watching the boatmen skulling across the water in the cistern just below the window of the daughter-gone-to-be-a-nurse's floral bedroom where they'd put me for a week. Packed off from a Woodside platform for a compulsory solo holiday in Gloucester aged ten on a steam train which has been disappeared and which had awkward long leather straps for struggling to opening windows with and struggling to close them if you didn't want smuts in your eyes; second visit to a branch of the ancestral family, and the last, I was in another country of strangers who were children fifty years before me some time between Mafeking and Sarajevo. What's to remember? Being shown to a shed to get a lungful of hot onion gas, a child was bound to like a well nurtured onion, and the cabbages making a farty smell at the bottom of their garden, as tall as me at dawn and rolling silver beads down my bare legs, the watering can which helped me escape to pass the time befriending them, the Ford Prefect precision parked with post-war pride after taking me to Bourton-on-the-Water, a child was bound to like a picturesque model village, or Peter Scott's Slimbridge, a child was bound to like pretty ducks, no doubt Uncle Harold did, he carried binoculars round his neck, like an untested meaning of life. He was big in carpets at the Bon Marche, having worked his way up. He rolled out an Axminster, this is an Axminster, he said, a child was bound to like a well made carpet. There must have been a speech or two at his well-earned retirement, Gloucester colleagues standing round, remarking upon his achievement in mats and rugs, grinning for as long as it took. Auntie Elsie would have written to my mum, saying how much she enjoyed having me. What a good eater I'd been and so quiet, put in the front room each evening with the solitaire, not a sound, a child was bound to like a nice game of solitaire. Were they tested or untested when the photographs came from the other side of the world which was bigger then and grandchildren were sequestered behind smiles and wrote compulsory thank you letters to strangers, treasured in a Bon Marche letter-rack like a consolation contre la mort? They didn't say. Pride keeping it shut, perhaps. Uncle Harold and Auntie Elsie have gone to graves in Gloucester, though I doubt if they know it or what became of me or what will become of me and a couple of cousins and scatterings of grandchildren with bits of her and him and me in them, and our fading fragments of memory of their existence, and their graves no-one visits, where people dawdle by, and a fox deposits a sloppy mess.

Archived comments for The Game of Solitaire
Mikeverdi on 10-03-2014
The Game of Solitaire
Just love reading these memory lane pieces, we come from a similar place in time; things were a lot simpler then. A place for everything and everything in it's place. Keep them coming Gerald.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Mike. Appreciated as always. I haven't made my mind up about whether things were simpler then or not, nor can I tell if people are happier now. How would we do the measuring? Gerald.

Kipper on 10-03-2014
The Game of Solitaire
Solitaire. That's life I guess, for despite everything we are essentially on our own.
There is much in your poem that I recognized, in essence at least and though we were warned that it was a long one, I would have stayed with you had you continued further.
Among the many insightful phrases I think the one "and our fading fragments of memory of their existence" will resonate in the minds of many of your readers.
Michael


Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Michael, for your reading of the word 'solitaire' and I appreciate your commenting on my wee poem. Regards, Gerald.

pdemitchell on 10-03-2014
The Game of Solitaire
Too many good points for singling out one but a long and worthy effort with delightful surreal and juxtaprosey quirks, Gerald. I enjoyed this immensely. Mitch

Author's Reply:
Many thanks for commenting, Mitch. I'm pleased you liked it.
Gerald.

jdm4454 on 11-03-2014
The Game of Solitaire
Never noticed it being lengthy, but had it been 40 pages, the last stanza was worth it--- brilliance, Gerald. that stanza could be a poem on its own and garner recognition, combined with the picture you've painted growing up with them, it is that much better. jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks, jim. I'm pleased you stopped by and spent some time on this. It was only for one week that I 'lived' with them so there couldn't be 40 more pages of memories. Not sure about having the last stanza on its own.
Gerald.


Spring Platitudes (posted on: 07-03-14)
Sonnet for two voices

''Never thought he'd do this on a spring day, not when the house is paid for and us kids are off his hands; filling time's easy - hey, he could have got started on all those weeds! Today's most definitely one for getting out there, for getting stuck in; no sense is there, just staring through the window, letting time go by, rather than fix those fences.'' ''It's the book-mark feeling that's put him out: flat as a pressed flower in a tiresome book - like when you open the garden door that lets in the smell of blossom and sets you back another year - he's just marking the last chapter at the point where people get lost.''

Archived comments for Spring Platitudes
jdm4454 on 07-03-2014
Spring Platitudes
very well done... I love the last lines --
"he’s just marking the last
chapter at the point where people get lost.”

sums it right up---thanks for the read....jim


Author's Reply:
Thanks, jim, glad you liked it. Cheers, Gerald.

Marvo on 09-03-2014
Spring Platitudes
Nice imagery..........thank you

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by......Gerald

pdemitchell on 09-03-2014
Spring Platitudes
A clever and poignant sonnet with no thees and thous and on'ts. Bravo. Mitch

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Mitch. Much appreciated, Gerald.


Claude Chabrol's 'Les Biches' 1968 (posted on: 07-03-14)
in which Jacqueline Sassard starred as the young woman called 'Why'

Not much you can do with jealousy, store it, save it, turn it into anger? Direct it at Jacqueline Sassard? Call hers a retirement too early? But would she even care, as she daintily does her shopping for things she doesn't need today in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat? Not much longer for this life, rich Gianni Lancia back home with the framed photos of his dad's racing-cars in the gated villa, decadently awaits her return; because it's still buonissimo having la bella donna he seduced away from all that - stardom, looking beautiful - giving her the chance to run off with him to Brazil at twenty-eight, and she took it. Why not? With a neat plunge of a knife lifted down from the wall, Jacqueline killed Stphane Audran, still working over sixty films later. Why waited on the bed to reclaim lover Jean-Louis Trintignant, but Chabrol didn't reveal what we imagine happened next or tell us what happened to Why. No need, we know why: it was La Fin, as, never to be caught on film again, Jacqueline slipped away overnight, from biche clbre to biche anonyme. (biche = doe, chick, babe, not bitch )

Archived comments for Claude Chabrol's 'Les Biches' 1968
Mikeverdi on 07-03-2014
Claude Chabrols Les Biches 1968
Beautiful writing Gerald, a story well told as always.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Mike. Much appreciated, Gerald.

jdm4454 on 07-03-2014
Claude Chabrols Les Biches 1968
I agree with Mike---a beautifully told story. Seemed like I was watching an old french film noir... jim

Author's Reply:


Divertimento (posted on: 03-03-14)
Divertimento: a light and entertaining composition, typically one in the form of a suite for chamber orchestra. The term is used particularly in the second half of the 18th century.

What goes from A to B and itself never turns but turns A into B and back to A in turns? What brings a divertimento back as leaves turn to carpet and trees to feel the ache in rain turned grave-side sleet? What drives us on to B with our faces turned to A, and why do divertimenti only distract, and finally dismay?

Archived comments for Divertimento
jdm4454 on 05-03-2014
Divertimento
I like the way the couplets are crafted, but it is obvious I know nearly nothing about classical music...maybe I don't know what divertimento means...the intro said a light composition...chamber orchestra...18th century -- that indicates classical -- Handel, Bach, and my all-time favorite 18th century composer, Francesco Zappa (1717-1804) -- of course, his friends called him "Frank".......thanks for the read, and for the opportunity to be witty---jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks, jim, for stopping by and commenting. Perhaps try Mozart's divertimenti and serenades - they're on YouTube. Cheers, Gerald.


The Colour of the Buses (posted on: 28-02-14)


Birkenhead buses were blue, blue Guy Arabs for school, bus stop in front of a bombed house on Borough Road, the gap filled by Camp Coffee and Senior Service. The 86 was the best in the morning, taking longer, time to get full marks in the French test, for Dave to check his homework against mine, never noticing I was leaning away from his feet. Mel usually missed it, his mum with five to get ready, another on the way with the lodger. Bus late, had to leg it up Milton Road, where Wilfred Owen used to live, caught the 51 on Derby Road. The 51, always in a hurry after school, specially lurching on the bend at the workhouse turned hospital, pressing Port Sunlight shift-workers against us, like bellows, puffing out Woodbines and Surf. Wallasey buses were yellow, yellow Leylands for the seaside, the 11 always smelling new taking us to New Brighton, the oil-stained sand, the washed up German mine. Once, with Auntie Bessie and Uncle Frank, the only time they made the trek to see us, we stretched our legs along the prom as far as Seacombe pier, my dad and Uncle Frank in waist-coats and suits, tacking trilbies into the wind. The ferry docking at Woodside, squeezing tractor tyres against the pier, the gangway clattering above the oily Mersey, the steep climb up the landing-stage at low-tide, being hauled away from model liners in the ticket-hall, Uncle Frank and Auntie Bessie waiting outside the railway station for the single-decker back to Chester, steam trains hissing, weary sighs I didn't know were premonitions of the axe. Chester buses were green, green Crosvilles for family stuff, Auntie Bessie, limping from meningitis, one leg shorter than the other, screams in my mum's ears going back to 1910, gave me port to try and put Jim Reeves on in the parlour. A child was playing with friends, she said, and drowned in the canal. They used to whip the horses up Watergate, said my mum, they sometimes fell down outside her doctor's. A grandfather smelling of birdseed sat all day in a rocking-chair by the bird, neither of them spoke. Uncle Frank carving bits of wood in a shed next to the outside toilet, its neatly ripped squares of newspaper on a loop of string, once he took me down to the Kop at the end of his road to see the River Dee. He had lung cancer and showed my dad where it was. The dreary drone of the journey back home at night, the fifties in the semi-darkness of the New Chester Road, a child peering through a misted window, to whom life seemed fixed the way it was.

Archived comments for The Colour of the Buses
Nomenklatura on 28-02-2014
The Colour of the Buses
Long? Not at all. Wonderfully nostalgic piece.
'Tacking trilbies into the wind' - a splendid image.
Marvellous
Ewan

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Ewan. Thanks for your comment, Gerald.

Elfstone on 28-02-2014
The Colour of the Buses
This is evocative writing - a very good read, but ... if I may and for your consideration only, chopping it up into "poetry-style" lines does it no favours. It is prose - very good prose at that; it doesn't need to be set as lines. Elfstone

Author's Reply:
Thanks, elf. I see what you're saying but this poem didn't start out as prose and get chpped up. This is how the lines emerged in three stanzas and a conclusion. I then thought of setting it out as prose but it contains too many unconnected phrases and incomplete sentences to be set as as viable prose without a drastic rewrite. Thanks again for commenting. Gerald

jdm4454 on 28-02-2014
The Colour of the Buses
It's a beautiful trip back through time and works for me broken into lines of poetry, and I agree with Elfstone, also. I was thinking as I was reading that this would make a great short story. If you had the inclination---it is so vivid, I was there changing buses with you all those years ago, Very enjoyable--jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Jim. This piece rewritten as a story is not an option. I'm sticking to the pfesent layout. Cheers, Gerald.

Bozzz on 01-03-2014
The Colour of the Buses
Gerald. you and I respect each other while sometimes differing strongly in our viewpoints. I do not understand what makes writers believe elegant prose of some length put in so-called poetic style makes it better. More often it can break a smooth read. Surely it cannot be because secretly they think poetry is of a higher status than prose? - for that would be absurd. Help me understand - what is the real driver here? Salutations friend...David

Author's Reply:
Thank you for referring to this piece as elegant prose. However, I do not consider it prose - if I were an English teacher marking it I would have the student rewrite it in complete sentences. It would not be awarded an A in its present state nor is it in the style of prose that I write. This is the format in which the piece emerged. Never in my life have I considered whether poetry is superior to prose or vice-versa. As for smoothness of read, it, it helps to deliver it aloud - with a Birkenhead accent. That's not Scouse, by the way, but many are those who can't tell the difference.Thank you for reading, David. Regards, Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 05-03-2014
The Colour of the Buses
I don't give a toss what its called or how it's presented, it tells a story either way. This is familiar to me as my family come from Liverpool. I remember as a child being taken to Birkenhead market, Sefton park and Southport. I love the way you constantly bring back forgotten memories Gerald; thanks for these.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. You're right, the form doesn't matter and there are many 'modern' poems published in this 'style.' It reads well in a Birkenhead (not Liverpudlian) accent!

Regards, Gerald. And thanks for the rate!

CVaughan on 08-03-2014
The Colour of the Buses
Really liked this great depictions of memories here, Frank.

Author's Reply:
Thank you for working your way through my recherche du temps perdu. Regards, Gerald.


Squirrel (posted on: 24-02-14)


Has the pinched face of a mendicant monk, wears a grey habit, scurries busily from matins to vespers, makes frequent stops, hands held together as if to pray, then forgets and does another little run, shows off doing irreverent tricks, flicking his trailing scarf.

Archived comments for Squirrel
barenib on 24-02-2014
Squirrel
I'm hoping that the red squirrels are going to make a big comeback! Your first two lines are my favourites here, John.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, John.

Gerald

Leila on 24-02-2014
Squirrel
oh I like this, lovely little poem...Leila

Author's Reply:
So pleased you liked it, thanks.

Gerald.

chant_z on 24-02-2014
Squirrel
Beautifully penned. I had to look up a few words here and that's a good thing. Thanks!

Author's Reply:
Thanks, chant_z. Pleased you like it. Gerald.

jdm4454 on 25-02-2014
Squirrel
Wonderfully tight and descriptive - one can easily see the picture your words have painted. The first two lines are exceptional..."medicant monk" simply beautiful. And I adore the title...thanks for sharing......jim

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Jim, for your fulsome praise. A poem that I thought would go nowhere. Not a ten, surely, but thanks. The title, of course, took me hours of work!
Gerald

Bozzz on 26-02-2014
Squirrel
Brill Gerald, would love to have more - the animal has so many behavioural quirks. David

Author's Reply:
A bit of a short and simple one. Thanks, David.
Regards, Gerald.

jdm4454 on 26-02-2014
Squirrel
Gerald -- it may seem to you like the title is obvious and simple, but since you never allude to any particular species in the poem, the title could be "What am I" and after read, it is so obviously a squirrel. But with the title not, the squirrel or some cute title, but simply "squirrel" the picture you paint evolves with every line to match the photo the word "squirrel" conjures in your mind......every bit worth the 10

Author's Reply:
Hi Jim. I did think putting "What am I?" but there was no point as it's so obviously about a squirrel. Thanks, Gerald.

ValDohren on 26-02-2014
Squirrel
Lovely, I can just picture the little chap. You describe his behaviors beautifully.
Val

Author's Reply:

Buschell on 28-02-2014
Squirrel
I think you could describe lead or perhaps builder's rubble and make it a thing of beauty. Your gift. Dazza.

Author's Reply:
Don't think so but I'll give a try - builders rubble, ha! Thanks fot your flattering comment, Dazza.
Gerald


The Wall (posted on: 24-02-14)


A try-again-dinner picked up off the floor, a you-can-do-better carton of cold tea, crumpled, with naughty-boy bent straw, bedwetting from the table, not wheeled away, pulled-off legs, still cycling to work, black toes, snagging aertex blanket, baring Belsen buttocks, and a farted mess to rub reality in. The nice vicar had a way with words: death's a wall and one day we'll see what's on the other side - the need for a good run-up and mind the barbed wire, tactfully omitted, I thought, remembering pulling off the motorway six months before, and the blood bypassing the narrow roads of his brain - the rest of him needing it as he reached for the door with me ringing and her with her trouble in the bathroom, shrieking don't go. And then his slipping, eyes averted, from his chair, made me the stranger he'd never tell what he could see behind him. No last-minute bequest, just an overripe head to catch, the terror in her eyes, and myself hoping he'd go for it there and then - but, always a shopkeeper, he carried on and carried on, after closing time. What a good idea of hers to pop into the nice vicar's church-hall at Christmas to cure the empty house and see about that wall - pity about the children and their toys, getting under her feet.

Archived comments for The Wall
Mikeverdi on 24-02-2014
The Wall
Fuck! that hit me between the eyes Gerald. Never read it better put. I am speechless. Please accept my Nomination.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Sorry about your eyes, Mike. Happy to accept your nomination. Many thanks, Gerald.

franciman on 24-02-2014
The Wall
Hi Gerald,
Stark, brutal almost and utterly compelling. The fifth stanza the very best of it for me, although there are many memorable lines.
I am still a little confused by it Gerald; which is not a criticism so much as an excuse me for being a bit dense!
Provoked all manner of thoughts and spoke of heartfelt experience.
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, Jim. If there's something confusing, maybe I need to adjust it, but which bit?
Regards, Gerald.

stormwolf on 25-02-2014
The Wall
I did not understand it all either but I read between the lines and thought it was very powerful and gripping.
Will have to read it several times to try to extract it all.
Alison x

Author's Reply:
Perhaps it's the time-shifts that cause confusion - hospital - funeral - events before he died - mother after funeral. Can't see a way of changing it. Thanks for having a go, Alison.

Gerald.

jdm4454 on 25-02-2014
The Wall
no confusion here... slick and metaphorically dense and well crafted....the only thing I would change is the word "remembering" at the start of the third stanza...I don't see the need for it. It seems a wasted word and a break in the fluidity from that exceptional second stanza, which, by the way, is worth a 10 all by itself........loved the line:
"the need for a good run-up
and mind the barbed wire,
tactfully omitted, I thought"-- wit and wisdom...thank you--jim


Author's Reply:
" remembering" has to stay, unrhythmical or not, because it effects a time shift back to before the hospitalisation, otherwise the second stanza will run into the third, and that would be more confusing. It does not, however, have to sit there like a sore thumb on a line of its own, so I'll move it back to where I used to have it, at the end of the second stanza. Phew!

Thanks for your appreciation, I appreciate it., Jim.
Gerald

pommer on 25-02-2014
The Wall
What a very powerful description.Never read better. Well done Gerald. Pommer.

Author's Reply:
Many thanks for your comment, Peter.

Regards, Gerald.

ValDohren on 25-02-2014
The Wall
Brilliant Gerald, and very powerful indeed. Had to read a few times and your responses to comments helped with understanding, though I'm still not quite there. A bit thick you know ! Well done on the well deserved nib and nom.
Val

Author's Reply:
Thanks Val. It does jump backwards and forwards but that's how it emerged. Regards, Gerald.

Bozzz on 26-02-2014
The Wall
Many oblique blades to cut this story. As Alison says, some dig deeper into the imagination than others. The net effect is what counts for me. Interesting slant makes the piece work well....David

Author's Reply:
Thank you, David, for your comment, appreciated as always.
Gerald

usutu on 14-03-2014
The Wall
I could smell the stale air and see the faded wallpaper. Very evocative.





Thanks,





U'sutu.

Haven't got the hang of these stars yet - I meant seven.

OK, 9 it is. U'sutu

Author's Reply:
Thanks for looking up this back number. No wall paper in the hospital or in my (late) parents' house. He kept it freshly decorated right up getting his glimpse of eternity. Most people rate 8 or 9 or 10. Getting 8 is just about tolerable but 7 or less and we are blubbing droplets into our beer. Knowing that, most of us award 8, 9 or 10 or nothing.
Gerald.


The Evening of the Zeebrugge Car Ferry Disaster (posted on: 21-02-14)


Heading out of the docks, a lorry turns full-steam into the road; its headlights splash on windows blinking at the evening news. Across the way, a telephone rings several times, and receives no reply. Lower down the road, the pub closes, discharging its contents like a sluice. Next-door flushes, shouts his children back to bed. Yawning cars turn in. We hear a ship lowing at the bar, impatient to come in for the night. The clatter of a train sweeps the sky like a litany of prayers for those at sea. The telephone rings, and will ring again, louder, and louder, probing black water.
(The flooding and subsequent capsize of the roll on/roll off passenger ferry Herald of Free Enterprise, on 6 March 1987 as it left the port of Zeebrugge, Belgium, resulted in the loss of 193 lives.)
Archived comments for The Evening of the Zeebrugge Car Ferry Disaster
Elfstone on 21-02-2014
An Evening Like Another
You have an ability to invoke a scene in a very atmospheric way. I remember this event - and isn't it the way, that great calamities jump out of very ordinary situations? Elf.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Elf. Best wishes, Gerald.

stormwolf on 22-02-2014
An Evening Like Another
I remember vividly this terrible tragedy.
I have to say that if you had not mentioned what it was about, I don't think I would have 'got it.'
However, the feeling in the poem comes across well.
Alison x

Author's Reply:
I've restored the title this poem had when I posted it last year. Thanks for commenting, Alison.
Gerald.


The Chill Factor (posted on: 21-02-14)
One from last winter, which was a particularly cold and protracted one

What else but humbly acknowledge Winter's strategy, its Red Army tenacity, as it fights off Spring's offensive, sometimes tactically pulling back, allowing it to creep forward, weakened and shivering, to be repulsed again, in razed fields and desolated cities? Penetrating like neuralgia, worsening by the year, the cold brings to mind something far more chilling than Arctic winds, or ice inside this window. While a freezing mist hovers in the garden, as if menacing me with plague, I watch synaptic sparrows surviving on seeds I have placed on their table. With luck, they will live a little longer, before quietly dying in secret, unmourned, a happy death they never knew they'd have. Ready to go at eighty, she said she wanted to die, and again at ninety. Lifeless as a rag doll at ninety-four, slumped over the edge of her pillow, she'd have come apart if I'd lifted her back. Getting her way at last, she recognised me before watching me leave, the way we always see someone for the last time.

Archived comments for The Chill Factor
jdm4454 on 21-02-2014
The Chill Factor
This is really good. I like the alliteration used in "synaptic sparrows surviving on seeds", but I love the use of "synaptic sparrows"---that is brilliant. The perfect description of "nervous little birds". That's worth a 10 right there, and combined with the last stanza's closing..... this should really get one of those "Good Read" nibs.
Thanks for sharing -------jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Jim, and thanks for the rate. Regards, Gerald.

ValDohren on 21-02-2014
The Chill Factor
An excellent write Gerald. Agree with Jim, this should get a nib - though nibs are not always given to the truly deserving IMHO. But I can give you a 10.
Val

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Val, for reading and commenting, Val, and many thanks for the rate!
Gerald.

stormwolf on 22-02-2014
The Chill Factor
One of your best Gerald.
So many great lines and I really liked the way you interwove the description of bleak winter and hardship with the dying sparrows, happy at their fate...then the contrast in the last stanza..
The very awful reality of living way beyond what was wanted. The agony of the protracted years till there is nothing left but the last sight...
Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Alison. I'm pleased this poem's got noticed this time round. Regards, Gerald

Mikeverdi on 24-02-2014
The Chill Factor
Just brilliant Gerald, you said it all; and something I know about.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. A bit grim, this one.
Gerald


Some Days (posted on: 17-02-14)


Some days is twenty-four of the best as best knows how, blazing sun-spot days of fierce happy-go, soft days of fondle-love in needle-hay, smile-at-life-days of variety's spice, blood-race days of wide-arm all-embrace, flush days of super-face and new-day-go. Good day, people, like this life's well spent, on days like these like others, hello! Some days is twenty-four of the worst as worst knows how, days of pity's wind blows eyes to tears, days of hearty-world-top's skip-me-by, days of sea-straw clutch at life's goodbye-waves, days of blurry-wake resents chill steel, shaves sick your social face of empty greet. Good day, people, like this life's well wasted, on days like these like others, cheerio! (Drear plod makes mind down lines-of-poems whine, so no more's plenty need be said enough about days like these like others, OK?)

Archived comments for Some Days
barenib on 18-02-2014
Some Days
Indeed some days you eat the bear and some days the bear eats you! I like the way that you've rendered these lines - John.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, John. One of my first poems, going back to 1969. Regards, Gerald.

stormwolf on 20-02-2014
Some Days
I thought this was quirky and originally laid out.
Maybe not my kind of preferred style but well done and deserves more comments. It can get demoralising to get a lot of reads and few comments. 🙁
I think when that happens it's often that people maybe don't know what to say. I had my one 'The Burning Years' about burning witches and I ended up deleting it after I think 100 plus reads and no comments. 😉
I think I chickened out haha but I really should not have deleted it, for it takes all kinds of poetry and all kinds of styles and subject matter to make a vibrant site IMHO
Alison x

oops forgot to say, I did not understand the end bit in italics.

Author's Reply:
Hi Alison, I think most of the hits are from visitors to the site - it's good to know the word is going out and we hope they're understood but sadly there's very few comments from members at the moment. Are they taking winter breaks? Talking of being understood, this poem is one of my first efforts - in a rather undisciplined style, I admit, but I needed a poem to post as I haven't any new ones left. Re. the last three lines, the 'drear plod ...' line is a parody of Hopkins. Very pretentious, what? Cheers, Gerald.

Elfstone on 21-02-2014
Some Days
I read this on Monday and meant to come back to it and I've just remembered, having read you today's sub. I like the way you've use words in this - very much. It has a song-like quality and by that I mean 'Lieder' rather than pop. I can relate strongly to the second main stanza; every line rings a bell. I'll look out for more of your work. 🙂 Elfstone

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Elfstone. Regards, Gerald.


Desaparecidos (posted on: 17-02-14)
School Leavers' Day

Voyageurs sans bagages, (overnight learning's very light), they took their exams through customs, and then they were off to a new land. Their resistance had become too studied, revolt was too pass. The new look was 'The Last of England', the photogenic pose of 'doomed youth.' The mime was definitely 'fin de sixth' the way they said goodbye and thank you, without making a sound, to their teachers, (consolidating complicity), and to the headmaster, two-fingered, and one year less to carry the blame.

Archived comments for Desaparecidos
stormwolf on 19-02-2014
Desaparecidos
Must be bitter-sweet to see them all go off...

Then perhaps in later years to see what be-fell them or made them soar.

Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Alison. My poem is asking if we do our best for our young folk and why schools provide no after-sales service. Regards, Gerald.

Buschell on 26-02-2014
Desaparecidos
I actually loved some of my teachers but didn't know it until years later...what an amazing profession before it became a tick box exercise...Dazza.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Dazza. Regards, Gerald.


One of the Regulars (posted on: 14-02-14)


Husband and pub could manage themselves; she came and sat his side of the bar, her plump comfortableness spilling over like a sack of flour on the stool. Of course he'd love to hear about their holiday, super trips to stately homes, other people's impressive gardens. ''So you enjoyed yourer sojournis that the right word?'' Clipped, but like his hair, not too severe, though neat. ''They had trees I'd never heard of'' Sociability cost her nothing, and it was good for business. ''Must have been a sort of arboretum'' His delivery smooth like his pressed flannels, polished like his blazer-buttons, a sociability that cost him a ploughman's and a pint every day; aye, and the rest, he mused, in the gents: who did he have to go on holiday with? Still, in the moment of truth that wafted up daily from his cupped hands, he could always say to the next man, ''All men are equal in the bog.'' Such bonhomie would surely see him through.

Archived comments for One of the Regulars
Nomenklatura on 14-02-2014
One of the Regulars
One of the regulars.. in any or many pubs. Splendid!

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked, it, Ewan. Thanks, Gerald.

usutu on 14-02-2014
One of the Regulars
Ah, pubs, those great levellers. All those empty conversations that help make us what we are. Very prophetic.

U,sustu

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, U,sustu. Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 15-02-2014
One of the Regulars
Excellent writing Gerald, I expect news of a book soon.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. What book? Regards, Gerald.

stormwolf on 15-02-2014
One of the Regulars
Excellent and deserving of the nib.

Alison x


Author's Reply:
Thank you, Alison. Gerald

Ionicus on 15-02-2014
One of the Regulars
Very descriptive. A good one.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Luigi. Gerald.

pdemitchell on 15-02-2014
One of the Regulars
Why am I thinking of George Michael after reading this? It's a crackingly observational piece and deserving of the nibbing.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, miitch. I don't why you are thinking og George Michael after reading this. Gerald.


Healthy Competition (posted on: 14-02-14)


Cross-country saved the pitches in winter, fair enough, but made us intellectuals - us express tail-enders - miss the first bus after school. Three minutes from his homework, beanpole Perkins always raced home early, excused by his heart, got his books out, and wasted no time. We kept warm at the bus-stop, killing time, moving pawns. The double-decker from Levers lurched through the smog; we concentrated on our chess, convinced he'd got us licked, in tomorrow's test.

Archived comments for Healthy Competition
Nomenklatura on 14-02-2014
Healthy Competition
Is this a repost or a reworking of an earlier poem?

It's still good, either way.
regards
Ewan

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Ewan. Yes, well remembered! This is a reposting with some reworking from this time last year. I've got a few reworked ones to post over the next few weeks. Regards, Gerald.

stormwolf on 14-02-2014
Healthy Competition
I think its always good to re-post re-worked poems. Some can take several forms and that's the beauty of it.
An interesting poem. I think we have all known a beanpole Perkins in our time 🙂

Alison x


Author's Reply:
Thanks, Alison. I'm surprised my other poem got the nib and not this. Ah well. Regards, Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 15-02-2014
Healthy Competition
Still on form Gerald, most if not all of my efforts have had at least one re write; (usually due to my lack of grammar) I often read them back and see a better way.
Mike

Author's Reply:
I have a few more poems to recycle and then ..... that'll be my lot, I think. Cheers, Gerald.

jdm4454 on 15-02-2014
Healthy Competition
That's him...Beanpole Perkins is my friend and nemesis from the 8th grade "Worm Watkins"....brothers of different mothers on opposite sides of the pond.........Worm, as in Bookworm, was always prepared, turned assignments in on time, first hand up, first to turn in his tests...skewed the curve and general know-it-all, pain in the buttocks.
Went to MIT, a math genius, got involved with the mid 60's experimenting with acid and the like--ended up publishing works like "Prime Numbers, Quantum Physics and a Journey to the Centre of Your Mind: Secrets of Creation" and "The Enigma of the Spiral Waves" - children's books on quantum physics and math -- what a hoot!
thanks for the memories.....jim



Author's Reply:
Thanks, Jim. The real story is that my friend and I got better results in our exams c despite the advantage he had in living so near to school. Made no difference inthe end. Cheers, Gerald.

Ionicus on 15-02-2014
Healthy Competition
Yes Gerald, many of us have known a clever clog like Perkins with his head always buried in books. But we had much more fun, didn't we?
Cheers.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Luigi. In fact my friend and I were the 'clever clogs' but always thought he'd do better becau se he had hours more time to spend on his homework. Made little difference in the end. C'est la vie. Gerald.

Nemo on 19-02-2014
Healthy Competition
To whoever....thank you for the nib for this poem....and thank you for the nomination!

Author's Reply:


On the Underground (posted on: 10-02-14)


Our train is delayed, passenger taken ill at Liverpool Street; we have to stand behind the yellow line, the announcement continues, omitting the details we can imagine if we wish but our faces don't let on; blank looks of indifference, or calm commuters' courage. It's the way we cope as we wait, fixed on our patchwork of thoughts; and when the train comes hurtling in, we stay behind the yellow line, maybe scan each carriage for signs of distress, stand back as the doors open to let people out; then step on board to sit or stand and carry on with our lives with a show of stoical humanity - or a case of not admitting to that unbearable feeling of being cruelly circumscribed.

Archived comments for On the Underground
Buschell on 10-02-2014
On the Underground
Your snippets of true history are sublime and as earthed as they come. But you already know this because you were born to write. Dazza.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Dazza. Not so sure this experience was sublime, just a normal day on the tube, and sobering. Cheers, Gerald.

Andrea on 12-02-2014
On the Underground
Excellent description. nemo. Reminded me of my tube journeys into central London many years ago.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Andrea. I'm glad I don't have to use the tube very often. Oh, and a big thanks to the mystery person who awarded me the nib for my other poem! Regards, Gerald.

stormwolf on 13-02-2014
On the Underground
Having recently had experience of the tube on last years attendance at UKA live in London.... I thought it was pure hell and a never to be repeated experience, if I can help it!
This poem was far more reserved of course and caught the commuter well I thought.

Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thanks again, Alison. Yes, the tube is hell but luckily I don't have to use it very often but it is preferable to driving on the North Circular (A406) at peak times.... which are usually all day. Regards, Gerald.

ValDohren on 13-02-2014
On the Underground
My daughter lives in London and therefore my late husband and I made many trips on the underground when visiting her. I am reliably informed that there are a fair number of suicides. One might say it is something of a hell-hole in many respects. Very good piece of writing. Oh, er .... Mind the gap !!
Val

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Val. Pleased you liked it, Gerald.


Precinct Poser (posted on: 10-02-14)
A visit to a shopping centre

Shopping. They'd be at least an hour. Immaterial what they were buying: essential fripperies, dress material. I started getting tense, all this waiting, and the waste, and the dying - I could try drilling my diamond eyes into the crowd, gilt-edged from new-town jungles to forage in this escalating famine of pavlovian glass and steel hardened shoppers' faces I might crack into seismic smiles, eruptions of compassion. Why bother? Everyone was right, of course, in a dying world, in a Rorke's Drift undertow to the politics of acquisition. Besides, hadn't they left someone at home to deal with the floods of debris and pot-bellied children that poured through the letter-box? The arthritic grandmother, perhaps, that alluvium of drought, limping to the diluvian dustbin?

Archived comments for Precinct Poser
stormwolf on 13-02-2014
Precinct Poser
They sure can be soul-less.
I always get a laugh at the menfolk if they are ever dragged along to this most female of past-times.
Congrats on the nib

Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Alison. You're right, the men don't like hanging around. Cheers, Gerald.


Lamartine's Umbrella (posted on: 07-02-14)


In the Muse Lamartine, in Mcon, I was ready to pay homage to the great man, starting with his umbrella in a stand by the door, when my companion informed me it wasn't the real one. His friend had stolen it the year before; whereupon, lo! I was visited by a vision a vision of saints in agony and ecstasy or agony of ecstasy or ecstasy of agony, and venerable monks ossifying in ossuaries, wafers of wood from crosses and cradles deposited in depositories, martyrs' charnel and chains encased in cabinets, some poor sods' hair and nails reliquated in reliquaries, two-thousand-year-old blood funnelled into phials to be kissed for fee . What! You really believed I had a vision these days? Never! And yet, mon ami, duplicitous display generates genuflection of the spirit in manifold multitudes - because we're here to be duped, you see, knee-benders or not, n'est-ce pas?

Archived comments for Lamartine's Umbrella
Buschell on 08-02-2014
Lamartines Umbrella
I am not even close to being clever enough for this one. But the word play is spot on and the imagery from just single lines is lucid and rich. I will pretend to be you and see if I can. Dazza.

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Dazza, for commenting on my poem. I was.despairing of anyone ever noticing it. Regards, Gerald.

stormwolf on 09-02-2014
Lamartines Umbrella
Brilliant, Gerald!
I cannot say all the things I liked, from the repetition to the alliteration, the humorous to the ridiculing.
The contrasting of the old and venerated to the modern slang, juxtaposed by the street-wise observer.
A lot in one poem, a feast in fact.

Alison

Author's Reply:
Hi Alison. I'm mightily relieved this poem's been noticed at last. I was about to remove it. I'm so pleased you liked it. The umbrella is true and then the rest was just a mad romp. Best wishes, Gerald.

Andrea on 09-02-2014
Lamartines Umbrella
Ah me...the alliteration...*sigh*

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Andrea, for commenting and for the rate. Regards, Gerald.


On Arriving at Finis Terrae (posted on: 03-02-14)


Here I am at last, at the end of my life, posting my farewells and seeking peace of mind as I queue for the vessel along the beach; but I can't help leaving footprints in the sand, though they have the power to hurt me, like words, even as they irrevocably fade; nor can I ignore the waves running up to me, like children, thrilling with their ancient stories, faltering with their first few words, forgetting how they went, and running back, trying to remember all that has happened and all who have stood on this wind-swept shore, looking out from the end of the known world to where the vast ocean joins the immeasurable sky in the dank unremitting colour of nothingness.

Archived comments for On Arriving at Finis Terrae
Mikeverdi on 03-02-2014
Finis Terrae
Gerald you are spoiling us, so many great phrases in you're work. I love this poem. Mike

Author's Reply:

Elfstone on 03-02-2014
Finis Terrae
Oh this is good. Shades of The Grey Havens. The first two stanzas are particularly powerful. I feel I want more though; I want to know who the "They" in that first line are. And I would like to know what is found in that "colour of emptiness" - I suppose we all would. Elfstone

Author's Reply:
I'm pleased you liked this but I think who 'they' are what is in 'the colour of emptiness' are best left to your imagination. That's what I'm doing. Thanks for commenting, Elfstone.

franciman on 03-02-2014
Finis Terrae
Hi Gerald,
Really enjoyed this. Evocative and strangely re-assuring. I think it wanders from the path a little though. For me verses 3 and 4 dilute the message. You know me though?
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Jim, but, och noo, I can't have you putting down my third and fourth stanzas - we have been brought here to die out at sea - the waves are witnesses to the whole history of humanity we are about to join. What a miserable thought! How did I come up with this one? No idea! A la prochaine, Gerald.

Savvi on 04-02-2014
Finis Terrae
this conjures a strange image and a feeling of melancholy with some inspired lines, I like the idea of the sea being there at the start and finish of all things. Best keith

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Keith. A bit primaeval, this one. Regards, Gerald.

Bozzz on 04-02-2014
Finis Terrae
Very good Gerald. An instinctive return to whence we came - to commute with amoeba and paramoecia. The wet hospice for all. Touching, but not wholly sad....David

Author's Reply:
Thank you, David, for your comment. Gerald.

Nomenklatura on 09-02-2014
Finis Terrae
As with all of your work, thought-provoking and clearly a result of much thought to create it. I enjoyed this
Regards
Ewan

Author's Reply:
I'm pleased you enjoyed it. Thanks for your comment, Ewan. Regards, Gerald.


Curriculum (posted on: 31-01-14)


"Knowledge, my young colleagues, is the shortest distance between two points, and the truth is flat that is why we talk round, otherwise they'll set out with their shiny faces from point A here trailing those useless clouds of glory, and, if not detoured round the picturesque side-streets of circumlocution, they'll keep going package, straight through the Benidorms of time, to point B over there and fall off the edge of a life that's flat, and spin like spent spaceships all over the ruddy place!"

Archived comments for Curriculum
Elfstone on 31-01-2014
Curriculum
This has much striking imagery and some thought-provoking ideas. It's deserving of the nib. Elfstone

Author's Reply:
Thanks for your appreciation, Elfstone. Regards, Nemo.

stormwolf on 01-02-2014
Curriculum
Really enjoyed the way the 3rd stanza alluded to Wordsworth and the last stanza spoke of frustration. it made me smile.,
congrats on the nib

Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Alison. Yes, I think. Wordsworth deserves a little jibe now and again. Gerald.

ValDohren on 02-02-2014
Curriculum
Hmmm, left me a little puzzled, but I think I get the gist. Interesting.
Val

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Val. Just saying that teachers should be allowed to teach more than just facts. Regards, Gerald.

Savvi on 02-02-2014
Curriculum
I love the idea behind this and its so true, we all remember the people that take you off the beaten track. I thought the 3rd was a little Wordy 😉 tee hee

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Keith. Third stanza a case like 'Too many notes, Mr Mozart', perhaps? Regards, Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 03-02-2014
Curriculum
Another Nib worthy poem from you're repertoire Gerald, great stuff my friend. Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. cheers, Gerald/


The Last Tiger (posted on: 27-01-14)


Another dodo moment: impossible for homo sapiens to avoid making it an all-ticket spectacular, one to capture for the memory, to savour, as it were, with a titillating soupon of collective shame kicking in as an after-got, (and more kudos than being at someone's last concert, before he died. Perhaps.) Trailing something of the rescuee brought blinking out of the foetid jungle to be told the war was over, this fabled feline was fuming in his fake forest, cursing conservation's cock-up, (though with penis still intact.) Suddenly, he padded towards me, two poniards in his smouldering eyes, his sneering snarl rasping like an imperial accusation I really didn't deserve. That was when I jostled to the front of the crowd, calmly steadied my aim, and intrepidly bagged him. He didn't feel a thing. I felt elated: I had the screensaver to die for. I duly paused for reflection at the memorials to the dead keepers.

Archived comments for The Last Tiger
Nomenklatura on 27-01-2014
The Last Tiger
Ha! Splendid, a lot of serious matters in play here.

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Ewan. I'm pleased you liked it. Regards, Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 27-01-2014
The Last Tiger
Oh yes Gerald, it says so much; great words as usual. I was not that keen on the lay out with this one, that didn't detract from the story though. Excellent. Mike

Author's Reply:
Whoops, I had forgotten to upload the latest layout, now done. Thanks for commenting, Mike. Regards, Gerald

Mikeverdi on 27-01-2014
The Last Tiger
That's Better Gerald 🙂 Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks again, mon ami. G

EmotiveSoul on 27-01-2014
The Last Tiger
Really enjoyed this mate. Daz

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Regards, Nemo.

Bozzz on 27-01-2014
The Last Tiger
Sounds like premature memorial for the last of the species.
The thought that if it were not for humanity, he would have enjoyed you for lunch must have crossed his mind - and perhaps yours. Nice piece Gerald - food for thought. You could re-write the incident from his point of view - that would be fun...David










Author's Reply:
Many thanks, David. Not sure I could get into a tiger's head - I know he'd be fuming at the way he's being treated. My semi-humorous piece derives from my own anger at what's going on. He and many others could indeed be the last - soon. Regards, Gerald.

Ionicus on 28-01-2014
The Last Tiger
"Suddenly, he padded towards me,
two poniards in his smouldering eyes,
his sneering snarl rasping
like an imperial accusation
I really didn’t deserve."

Glad to see the 'poniards' once again, Gerald. I remember having had some disagreement about that some time ago but I cannot fault it this time. Well done on the nib.

Author's Reply:
Well remembered, Luigi. I simplified and removed the offending word! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Best wishes, Gerald.

stormwolf on 28-01-2014
The Last Tiger
Got some nice alliteration going here Gerald.
congrats on the nib 😉

Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Alison. Regards, Gerald.

amman on 29-01-2014
The Last Tiger
Hi Gerald.
Terrific. This has been well received and rightly so. Really caught my imagination. Very literate with great alliteration.
Cheers.
Tony.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting,Tony. Pleased you liked it, Gerald.

jdm4454 on 09-02-2014
The Last Tiger
Rocked right along -- loved the personal asides. Thanks for sharing...jim

Author's Reply:
Pleased it rocked for you, Jim. Thanks for commenting. Cheers, Gerald.


Vacant Possession (posted on: 24-01-14)
Houses for sale are often described by estate agents as 'Vacant Possession' - this one is different

Slam! They leave the wall-to-wall niceness in charge. Goodbye to the essential pictures in the hall, with its past of other pairings and partings painted out in exorcising shades. Goodbye to the polished smiles of approving guests prolonging best wishes in fashionable frames, and just-unwrapped smells in the press-button room, waiting for the evening like the slippers, fluffy as requested from Auntie Pru, and another standing-idle day begins. A second slam! beats the evening draught down the hall. The double-glazed silence slinks off to sulk with the old days in the corner; rodent reveries scurry away to claw at filled-in escape holes. Re-embracing life together, the young couple strip off the world-of-work that gets in the way.

Archived comments for Vacant Possession
Mikeverdi on 24-01-2014
Vacant Possession
Just perfect for me Gerald, so no change there then 🙂
Mike

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Mike. Thanks, Gerald.

stormwolf on 24-01-2014
Vacant Possession
Loved this Gerald. 🙂
The only bit I was not sure about was the title which threw me a bit. I am taking the poem as an observation (or guesswork) on the lives of the couple and the house. The first slam them leaving and the second slam them returning..
It's inventive and wonderfully intricate in the imagery.

Alison x

Author's Reply:
Vacant Possession - estate agent's language for an empty house for sale interpreted slightly differently? Thanks for reading and commenting, Alison. Regards, Gerald.

stormwolf on 25-01-2014
Vacant Possession
Hi again Gerald,
I am very aware of what 'vacant possession' means (sadly 😉 )x

Do you mean that this one is going to be sold? I still could not quite equate the poem with the title.
sorry 😉
Do you mean that the couple are in the process of separating but have not yet put the house on the market?

I felt from the last stanza that the couple were very much a team against the world.

Author's Reply:
Sorry, Alison, I thought you meant you didn't know what the title meant. I was actually playing with the word 'vacant', implying that even if the house is empty while the young couple are out, it is still 'possessed'
(a) by the couple because they own it and
(b) possessed, i.e. haunted by its past.
.(c) and , oh so cruel, there is a faint suggestion that the couple might be a little 'vacant' too.
A favourite poem of mine which always makes me laugh but, I'm having to accept, one which doesn't seem to 'work' for others.

stormwolf on 25-01-2014
Vacant Possession
Ah, another example ( to me at least) of the author feeling the poem is self explanatory when in fact it confuses. I hope others speak up but maybe some like the air of mystery as poems are indeed open to many different interpretations and I think I am sometimes too much of a perfectionist in the way of "needing to know" goes.

Not sure but wish we would get many more giving their tuppence worth. Freya was really great at honing in and others too but sadly they no longer post.
I would ask questions by pm but then others miss out on valuable explanations.
Don't know what the answer is. I do feel if we never question we never learn however 🙁 x
Anyway, excellent writing 😃

Author's Reply:
Hi again, Alison! I think it might be useful to others that such discussions are conducted like this in the comment boxes. Please believe me when I say that I am a million miles away from assuming my poems are self-explanatory. I post, as I am sure we all do, in order to find out if our poems are indeed self-explanatory, and, if they are not, we would like to know why. As you have pointed out previously, most people are a little hesitant to point out what is not clear or ill-expressed in a poem, and so we are at loss to know what to do to improve it. G

jdm4454 on 03-02-2014
Vacant Possession
I think this is a really good read...thanks ---
"The double-glazed silence slinks off to sulk
with the old days in the corner;" .........
"Re-embracing life together,
the young couple strip off
the world-of-work that gets in the way."

these two lines are beautiful and, to me, bring it all together.......thanks for the read!! -- jim




Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, jim. Thanks for commenting and for the rate. Regards, Gerald.


On Hearing Debussy (posted on: 20-01-14)


I think it was 'La Mer' first, on Wal's Dansette, that we snogged to, and had our 'ecstasy of fumbling' in the house next door.
Walked past it every day off the 51 after school. Never knew Wilfred lived there a while when he was a boy. Wish I had - I could have nodded at where he'd been some fifty years before in that old terraced street, still with no blue plaque at number 14 Willmer Road.
Or was it 'L'Aprs-midi d'un Faune' we started with?

Archived comments for On Hearing Debussy
Mikeverdi on 20-01-2014
On Hearing Debussy
Excellent Gerald, you capture things so well. Mike

Author's Reply:
Just a doodle, thanks, Mike. Gerald.

Ionicus on 21-01-2014
On Hearing Debussy
A nice, nostalgic note on past pleasures.
You must have been in exalted company, Gerald, to achieve 'ecstasy of fumbling' to the sound of classical music.
In my days it was more Elvis than Debussy that did the trick.


Author's Reply:
Thanks, Luigi. We had the Beatles too, but a teacher at school had just got us hooked on classical music. Regards, Gerald.

Savvi on 22-01-2014
On Hearing Debussy
Don't stay there too long the melancholy will catch you:) this has a lovely frame and elements we can all relate to. Nice job. Keith

Author's Reply:
I appreciate your comment, thanks, Keith. Gerald.


Overheard at the Tate (posted on: 17-01-14)
This is the overheard monologue of an art critic explaining four abstract paintings depicting Pierrot, the Commedia dell'Arte clown, to his long-suffering companion.

"Here's Pierrot and some dreamy-eyed boaters - they must be us, I'm sure you'll agree - pretending to let something escape: metaphor-stuff trickling through their fingers dangled over the side of a world they think will float in sepia tints forever, I reckon. Look at Pierrot staring, haunting the bottom-right; this moon-mad clown was happy once to drift, trusting in still-water centuries and frolics that soothed his silly visions of hell, while his flour-white mask concealed his horror of the cracks he saw in the future's crust. Now Pierrot's peeping into a house, seeing children sprawling with kitten-eyes; televisions showing roaring rockets with leaping astronauts confirming multitudes in their new religion - wasted on this cat - what an obvious symbol - pyramid-slow, building his bunker of sleep. See over here, between the willows, so easy to miss: Pierrot's hit the rapids and tumbles in the gale; his smock's turned shroud; his pallid sleeves are fooling in a flash - the apocalyptic gestures of despair no-one heeds - and, of course, the bloodless face, the pointed nose of a moribund. Does it remind you of a poem by Verlaine? Sorry? Oh, you've had enough? Let's move on to the next room."

Archived comments for Overheard at the Tate
barenib on 17-01-2014
Overheard at the Tate
I enjoyed this very much, and I like the critic losing his audience at the end; I've heard many similar conversations! John.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, John. Pleased you liked it. Regards, Gerald.

Nomenklatura on 17-01-2014
Overheard at the Tate
Well, I liked it the first time. I´m not a big fan of explaining any work, think I´ve failed if I have to spell it out. At the same time, I still love TS Eliot, for all his multi-layering. Anyway, if I forgot to say I liked it the first time, I´m saying it now.
You write extremely well, Gerald.
Ewan

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Ewan, for your appreciative comment - and thanks for the nomination. Regards, Gerald.

Pronto on 18-01-2014
Overheard at the Tate
HI I loved this I've often heard critics spouting on. I too wrote a poem called the Art critic and, at the risk of being judged a show off I'll pop it here for your amusement.

The Art critic

The colour’s wrong the sky’s too big
What’s it supposed to be?
It’ll never be accepted
Far too vague you see
And ships don’t ever look like that
And what’s that there? A tree?
The sun’s too bold the sea’s too pale
It don’t look right to me

If you’re to succeed my friend
I really have to mention
You’ve got to paint more like the rest
By sticking to convention
No, I’m afraid it just won’t do
You’re obviously still a learner
Do you have a name young man?
Who? JMW Turner?


Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Pronto, and thanks for your poem. Regards, Nemo

Mikeverdi on 19-01-2014
Overheard at the Tate
Few can mach the elegance of you're writing Gerald, you deserve all the accolades you get; congrats on the Nom. Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. Regards, Gerald

Mikeverdi on 19-01-2014
Overheard at the Tate
Few can mach the elegance of you're writing Gerald, you deserve all the accolades you get; congrats on the Nom. Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks again, mon ami. Best wishes, Gerald. Let's see what tomorrow brings.


Sea Breezes and Passers-by (posted on: 13-01-14)
Ironic thoughts brought on by two French poems - sounds pretentious but it isn't - honest.

To what end, from Mallarm's example, do I now assemble thoughts of sailing somewhere I shall never know and, arriving, discover was never there? For better the hell of where I am: on my unCarribean island awash with cars rolling up the motorway and rolling back; with these - not melon-smile neighbours that doze on their porch - but surly sods making a quid round the back, or banging home from the pub, as I settle for the monotony of British grub. To what end, Baudelaire, in your sonnet, did you once celebrate eyes that met, paths that crossed in a Parisian street, your glimpse of a woman you might have loved? For better the hell of who we are: bricked into ourselves, in rooms of our own, not knowing, not seeking, other universes; not being over the road, drawing curtains on mistresses' afternoons; not jumping universes to outlive the rollers' run, or fuck the impossible arrayed in the sun.

Archived comments for Sea Breezes and Passers-by
Mikeverdi on 13-01-2014
Sea Breeze and To a Passer-by
I love this, for me it's one of you're best. You may say that many of these are old... that doesn't make them any the less. The last verse is sublime in my opinion.Mike


Author's Reply:
I'm very pleased you liked this one. Many thanks for your comment and the nomination. (!) Regards, Gerald.

barenib on 13-01-2014
Sea Breeze and To a Passer-by
Ironic indeed, and an interesting two choices of French writers to use as inspiration. John.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, John. Regards, Gerald.

Savvi on 13-01-2014
Sea Breezes and Passers-by
Very well penned and a delight to read congrats on the Nib and Nom. tiny nit for me is the double use of universes IMHO it detracts from the sublime opening lines of the last stanza. Best Keith

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting on this piece, Keith. At the time it seemed logical, and an enjoyable challenge, to make the third and fourth stanzas mirror the first two - in the number of lines and the rhyme scheme. It doesn't quite work with 1 and 3 and it meant echoing the 'back/back' with 'universes/universes.' I have always hoped that the reader would think that, as I have made this happen, perhaps I am deliberately highlighting the key word 'universes' in my ironic mockery of escapist poetry. I'm pleased that you find the opening lines of the last stanza 'sublime.' Regards, gerald.

Bozzz on 15-01-2014
Sea Breezes and Passers-by
As you might expect from me, magnificent prose, Gerald ! Worthy nib, but I do prefer a plague of 'amande noisettes' to a queue for 'choc-ices. Greetings...David

Author's Reply:
Get away, it rhymes and it's got a calypso rhythm! Thanks for your full-blooded scrutiny, David. Cheers, or if this word is too modern, best wishes, Gerald.

Bozzz on 15-01-2014
Sea Breezes and Passers-by
Rhymes and rhythm? - water on the moon - arrière pensée !
Gerald I think we belong on different spheres - you like your calypso stuff, I'll stick with English tradition. But if you want real full-blooded scrutiny, maybe best look elsewhere. Warmth, David.

Author's Reply:
I was joking about the full-blooded scrutiny, David - ref your recovery from the warfarin episode! I' m happy with the scrutiny on UKA. Best site around. Gerald.


Rain (posted on: 10-01-14)


Heavy, as forecast, for evening commuters; a ferocious attack, arrows angled in, Agincourt again. In serried ranks, caution or cowardice at the wheel, our carapace motorcade progresses at a stately pace. Street lights, swaying like yellow-eyed brachiapods, wave, spread sheets of gold before us; the wind's applause buffets our cars, spraying our windows with champagne as we pass. We could imagine we are emperors, generals, victorious soldiers being cheered back home. But the champagne's flat like desire for war all fizzled out; it comes swirling off the seas of poppy-fields in precipitate of mushroom-clouds, and reins us in until we get back home.

Archived comments for Rain
Nomenklatura on 10-01-2014
Rain
I catch the scent of Flanders mud in this flat-champagne rain... (but then I'm odd) Good poem.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Ewan. Regards, Gerald.

stormwolf on 10-01-2014
Rain
Bravo! powerful stuff. Original and thought provoking
I really got the images of war and the many feelings from anger to bitterness, to a desire that things were different.
Another super one from you Gerald.

Alison x

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Alison. I'm pleased you liked it. Gerald.

Elfstone on 10-01-2014
Rain
I read this as a commentary on the state of much of England and the coast of Wales at the moment - under water - which just goes to to show that good poetry can be read in many ways. Elfstone

Author's Reply:
Rain from about 20 years ago or more. Thanks, Elfstone. Nemo.

Mikeverdi on 10-01-2014
Rain
Another wonderful read Gerald, I would ask when this was penned? Reading the line about the poppies I can see where Ewan is coming from. Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. This is another old one from about 1990. Regards, Gerald.

Bradene on 12-01-2014
Rain
This is fantastic, all of it is but this passage in particular.Street lights, swaying
like yellow-eyed
brachiapods, wave,
spread sheets of gold
before us;
the wind’s applause
buffets our cars,
spraying our windows
with champagne
as we pass.
Well done indeed. Valx

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Val. Pleased you liked it. Regards, Gerald.

Savvi on 13-01-2014
Rain
This was like blowing up a balloon then letting the air out slowly, great images (champagne esp) very nice. Keith

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Keith. This one of my favourite poems. I'm pleased it worked for you. Regards, Gerald.

jdm4454 on 15-01-2014
Rain
I'm new here, but I love this....reminds me why we left the poppy fields of Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia away from the bombing and alone to the CIA...enjoyed the read, thanks---one question??? Do you think the world will ever tire of war?

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, jdm4454. Probably the answer to your question is that the world has already tired of war but there will always be children in various parts of the playground who can't help flaring up and using their fists. Regards, Nemo.


Chteau de Chenonceau (posted on: 06-01-14)
Original version

Cuttings from cool Chenonceau, colllectors' chef d'uvre of hydroponic art, are being snapped up by the coach-load at this 'garden-centre' on the Cher. House-plant extraordinaire, with its feet in running water, it arches over tea-or-coffee talk, its bloom of transportable culture dropping aesthetic seeds of colloquy in the boudoirs of Australia or the salons of the States. Portraits, too, are snaffled up, chairs, cabinets, tapestries, all in the bag the invasion's on - everything goes, and blossoms again over Sunday lunch. It's said the Galerie was an escapers' bridge from the Occupied to the Free: I would parley across its five hundred years: make renaissance with the festive dead, bal-masqu for a whoring king la fte is only a layer of dust away were it not for the gardeners in between. At least, outside, my hawk can soar and blur them out, or swoop to the hand of Diane de Poitiers in her prime, dangling her legs, on the car-park wall.

Archived comments for Chteau de Chenonceau
Mikeverdi on 06-01-2014
Château de Chenonceau
Fine writing like fine wine is to be savored Gerald, I will drink this in with a glass of Margaux later, simply wonderful.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Glad you liked it, Mike. I'll join you with the wine later. Thanks, Gerald.

Elfstone on 07-01-2014
Château de Chenonceau
I had never heard of this Chateau and your poem sent me googling. What an extraordinary place! And a fine poem too. Elfstone

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Elfstone. Too fine a place to be desecrated by tourists and school parties. Gerald.

Andrea on 07-01-2014
Château de Chenonceau
Chenonceau is beautiful. I read the other day that there was a replica recently sold in Detroit for 2.5 mill (I think). Think I
l'll give it a miss 🙂

Great pome.

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Andrea. Regards, Gerald.

stormwolf on 08-01-2014
Château de Chenonceau
Hi Gerald
Lovely pic of the grand place. I found the poem to be a bit challenging in parts 😉 but it may require a few reads for those like me, not too familiar with some of the terms.
I did however, get a feel of the invasion and the acquiring of things by tourists, against the backdrop of ancient history. I hope I got it ok.
It is also set out nicely on the page.

Alison x

Author's Reply:
Yes, you have understood it, Alison. Thanks for reading and commenting. Gerald.


Trucker (posted on: 03-01-14)


He must have been a thundering highway-truck of a man; he filled the screen like he'd filled his cab, but talked much smaller now; his photogenic sorrow drew cameras off his wife, staring moistly from the sofa's brink. He looked crushed, run down, for he had not swerved to avoid himself. One imagined the family business rusting, abandoned, in the back-yard of his mind. Heaving heavy-haulage man, he must have begged to fade with the brakes, to be ground to dust in the brake-drum he let his son blow clean. (From the days when brake linings contained asbestos)

Archived comments for Trucker
Nomenklatura on 03-01-2014
Trucker
Truckin' good!

Author's Reply:
Ha! Thanks, Ewan.

Regards, Gerald.

Savvi on 03-01-2014
Trucker
very much enjoyed, the extended metaphor works really well.

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Keith. Many thanks, Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 03-01-2014
Trucker
Gerald you really are on a roll, some terrific writing from you of late; congrats on the Nib.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike, but it's not really a roll. I'm working through some old pieces written a long time ago. Nothing new happening, unfortunately. The stock will run out soon! Gerald.

Buschell on 05-01-2014
Trucker
Asbestosis? So many toxic ways to die back then. You talk of sorrow and loss a lot...but these things are all pervading, just ask Siddharta...another meoncholy marvel, Darren.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, Darren. A 'melancholy marvel' - nice one. Gerald.


New Year on the Mersey (posted on: 30-12-13)


Mindlessly at midnight, the first ship farts, then a laugh creases up the river and rips around the docks. Now the bobbing boats wiggle on the tide and link their arms in Auld Lang's Syne - the necessary cacophony of revelry to tug the New Year in and dump the old one at sea.

Archived comments for New Year on the Mersey
barenib on 30-12-2013
New Year on the Mersey
Nicely rendered - John.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, John. Regards, Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 30-12-2013
New Year on the Mersey
Excellent Gerald, I have a few things for them to take 🙂
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. You're welcome to join me in dumping your old years at sea. Regards, Gerald.

deadpoet on 31-12-2013
New Year on the Mersey
I think I'd prefer to keep my old year- to learn from- but generally yes old years should be dumped- I remember the song about 'the Mersey' was it Herman's Hermits?
love your poetry Gerald..always guaranteed quality.

Pia
xx

Author's Reply:
Hi Pia, the song you remember is called 'Ferry Cross the Mersey' by Gerry and the Pacemakers, 1964. Gerald. Gerry Marsden was so busy getting his singing career started that he had no time or energy for his day job as a languages teacher in Wallasey on Merseyside. I took over from him in 1967. Not many people know this. Gerald.

Bozzz on 01-01-2014
New Year on the Mersey
Lovely, Gerald, We are an old Liverpudlian family. Much enjoyed your deft touch.... David

Author's Reply:
Thank you, David. Originally from that part of the world myself. Gerald.


December Promenade (posted on: 30-12-13)


It's only a few days since Christmas, but after the joy comes a niggling sort of ache, here by the sea, with this lonely reveller of festive darkness, shedding needles of rain and a glitter of shivers along the promenade; with this foul-mouthed wind staggering off the tide at closing-time, fetching home a surly catch of staleness from the sea. Stale too, all along the front, the wind's accumulation: gusts of greasy smells, clattering gangs of rusty cans and whispering cronies of crumpled wrappers that lour and loll or lobby locked arcades. And staler still, scumming off the stranded year, and all the years beneath, the skins, the smells of other selves, the damaged, discarded selves - like canisters of waste discharging at sea, corrosive stuff, irradiating, blanching the blood of this resort all hunched up and left to play alone in winter rooms in a fug of malaise, with a baffled buzz of wings on the glass, a whiff of death behind the curtain. Look! All the lights are wistful spies, what-the-butlering for a glimpse of meaning in our lives. See, now they peer around the bay, nudge-nudging from window to window for the secrets up her skirts, as holly-spangled Hesper tinsels down the sky, and sidles over here, for warmth, to you and me!

Archived comments for December Promenade
Nomenklatura on 30-12-2013
December Promenade
This deserves more reads. Another splendid effort
regards
Ewan

Author's Reply:
Many thanks for your support, Ewan. Regards, Gerald.

deadpoet on 31-12-2013
December Promenade
Yes an absolute cracker- lots of great aliteration and all exceptional lines. First class poetry Gerald. I am missing a nib here.. I can smell the sea after this..thanks..

Pia
xx

Author's Reply:
A personal favourite of mine, this poem. I'm pleased you liked it, Pia. Many thanks for the rate, Gerald.

Bozzz on 31-12-2013
December Promenade
Not exactly a seashore that's fun for kids in winter. Elegant words for an inelegant situation. Good write.....David

Author's Reply:
Thanks, David. Thought you could get me a nib for this! Cheers, Gerald.

Bozzz on 31-12-2013
December Promenade
Afraid nibs are not within my power to grant, Gerald - but for such skilled writing alone it does deserve one. My only concern would be the presentation - for me it does not quite lend itself to the flow that is apparent in the wording. Alison would help you better on this....Best wishes, David

Author's Reply:
Wow! Somebody's just got me the nib! The flow in this poem - I'll give it some thought but I've never had trouble reading it aloud - I've read it at events - it lends itself very easily to being delivered with a Dylan Thomas voice. Gerald.


The Vicar Pops in at Christmas (posted on: 27-12-13)


Have some more tea, vicar, when you're ready, but do not face the moon when you court me, for your eyes protrude too much already, and I don't want my bosom splashed with tea.

Archived comments for The Vicar Pops in at Christmas
Corin on 27-12-2013
The Vicar Pops in at Christmas
Nice taster but where is the rest??


Author's Reply:
I never found out what happened next. Nemo.

deadpoet on 27-12-2013
The Vicar Pops in at Christmas
Oh this is fun to read- ...

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Pia. A light one for Chistmas. Nemo.

Andrea on 27-12-2013
The Vicar Pops in at Christmas
Hahaha, lovely!

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Andrea. Best wishes, Nemo.


Would you just be looking at those flowers? (posted on: 23-12-13)


Wheeled along by a nurse, the limp girl in the garden must be in her twenties, with someone's clothes, someone's hair-style; her heels, institution-red; her feet, at unnatural angles, half-dibbled into slippers sliding off the foot-rest. I sense she does not have much longer to live, parked, as she now is, at a bed of sprightly daffodils; defenceless, as she now is, against such a caring act of cruelty.

Archived comments for Would you just be looking at those flowers?
Nomenklatura on 23-12-2013
In a Hospital Garden
Unflinching description: very striking.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Ewan. Feliz Navidad, Gerald.

stormwolf on 23-12-2013
In a Hospital Garden
Hello Gerald
As an ex nurse I can see her so clearly. The poem is absolutely brilliant in the way you have captured the whole scenario of helplessness, being unable to do anything for herself at the mercy of others, even well meaning.
with someone’s clothes,
someone’s hair-style;
her heels, institution-red;
Reminds me of nursing in a long term psychiatric unit where the first bathed were the best dressed and last dressed were put into half-massed trousers and cardigans that could not button up. (upsets me even yet to think about it, even now but the ward did not allow them to wear their own clothes further institutionalising them and must have been terrible for those still able to care)

her feet, at unnatural angles,
half-dibbled into slippers
sliding off the foot-rest.

Yes, really insighful observations and incredibly sad.
The last stanza pure brilliant.
The last line especially, hit me in the guts. I remember when my dad was dying, we sat looking at spring flowers knowing he would not be there to see the leaves fall. (needless to say I wrote a poem about it)
I happily nominate it and take it into favs.
As sad and incredible a poem as I have read in a while.

Alison x

Author's Reply:
Well, I'm staggered. I never thought this poem would get anywhere! Many thanks, Alison, for the rate, the nomination and the fav. Regards, Gerald.

Nemo on 23-12-2013
In a Hospital Garden
Oh, the wondrous awarding of nibs! May it ever be shrouded in mystery! Many thanks to whoever it was! Nemo.

Author's Reply:

pommer on 23-12-2013
In a Hospital Garden
Yes Gerald, this poem does hit. Like Alison my first experiences in a long career in Psychiatric nursing were similar to hers.Fortunately I was able to work in many more enlightened hospitals, where we recognized people as individuals with their own personality, and treated them as such.I have been in retirement a long time now,and I hope that those days of degradation and institutionalisation are in the past now, but sometimes I still wonder and remember those early days.

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, pommer. I wrote this poem about 25 years ago. It would be nice to think 'those days of degradation and institutionalisation' are over but I'm not so sure. Regards, Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 23-12-2013
In a Hospital Garden
You're on a roll Gerald, so much good writing from you. mike

Author's Reply:
A roll that'll soon be running out. No new poems coming to me. Thanks for reading and commenting, Mike. Regards, Gerald.

Kipper on 26-12-2013
In a Hospital Garden
Unlike your other commenters I do not have a medical background so my only experience of hospitals is that of a patient or visitor.
Your poem very visibly describes conditions that prevailed in times past, and in certain areas of treatment. One can only hope that situations similar to the one depicted no longer exist. Your poem left me with a vivid mental image of abandonment and hopelessness.
But the last stanza implies that there was an element of caring, misplaced perhaps, in the way people were sometimes treated back then.
A powerful piece.
Michael

Author's Reply:
I'm pleased my little poem worked for you, Michael. Thank you for commenting. Although I wrote this poem many years ago, I have kept this poem in the present tense because no matter how optimistic we wish to feel about about the quality care provided by any health care system anywhere in the world, it is inevitable that there will always be patients in this predicament. Best wishes, Gerald.

Kipper on 26-12-2013
In a Hospital Garden
Unlike your other commenters I do not have a medical background so my only experience of hospitals is that of a patient or visitor.
Your poem very visibly describes conditions that prevailed in times past, and in certain areas of treatment. One can only hope that situations similar to the one depicted no longer exist. Your poem left me with a vivid mental image of abandonment and hopelessness.
But the last stanza implies that there was an element of caring, misplaced perhaps, in the way people were sometimes treated back then.
A powerful piece.
Michael

Author's Reply:
Thanks again! Nemo.

Buschell on 27-12-2013
In a Hospital Garden
Final, perfect oxymoron ends the most poignant piece I have read for a while...resolutely heart breaking and utterly human. Darren.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Darren. I saw this patient in Queen Square gardens, Camden, outside the National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery. She may have had a stroke or a brain tumour. Gerald.


Through the Wall (posted on: 20-12-13)


Waking us up in the night the cat we were drowning is a baby under the water, and the pair of voices bubbling through the wall are frantic divers, cradling, bringing up the victim, draining congested lungs. We step back from the water's edge, discreet pillows over our ears, and, like the coal-tar vaporiser that is the votive candle smelling sweet in a tourists' church, let the pungency of others' pain duly incense the room next-door; and empathy's confessional be a nice old Tardis in the dark, dematerialising us back to sleep.

Archived comments for Through the Wall
Buschell on 21-12-2013
Through the Wall
Sleep deprived half truths and hallucinations? That's my feeling and being a shift worker can totally empathise with this excellent poem. Merry Crimbo, Darren.

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Darren and a Merry Xmas to you, too. I was was getting worried after 50 hits that nobody would respond to my little poem. It's a slightly surreal piece about that state between sleep and waking and the couple's troubles next door. It was published in The Rialto and Envoi about 20 years ago. I thought it deserved sharing. Gerald.

stormwolf on 22-12-2013
Through the Wall
Hi Gerald,
I feel when we get many hits and no / few comments, it's due to people not understanding OR feeling unsure of how to respond.
I got the feeling here it was a collection of images in that strange state between waking and sleeping but I was not sure.

The only hint was the last line. (and the title maybe) I often say that just because we, the author, know what we are meaning, we cannot assume the reader will. This can be ok of course...just depends how much you want to reach out or maybe just post.
I confess i found it challenging 😉
Alison x

Author's Reply:
I agree, Alison, that we ' know what we are meaning, we cannot assume the reader will', but sometimes we are so amazed by our own poems - not in a self-congratulatory way - that we feel compelled to share the wonder of the creative process - especially when we rediscover them years after they were written and do not recognise the person who wrote them. I remember that this poem came to me after a spell of grappling with the compression and complexities of Mallarmé's poems. Perhaps I'll post it again in the distant future and for the time being draw consolation from the fact that it's scattered around the country in a couple of poetry magazines. Many thanks for reading and commenting, Alison. Best wishes, Gerald.

stormwolf on 22-12-2013
Through the Wall
Hi again Gerald

I could not agree more. In many poems there is another dimension that comes into play. Many of us recognise it and of course it is found in allegory of The muse. Like you, I often have to read my poems to find out what they are about and many times use phrases or words that I am not sure about but they just 'come' that way.
I learned to trust the creative process and confess, I often ask for that kind of help if I sit down to wrote a poem as opposed to the ones that break through no matter what I am doing 😉 xx

Author's Reply:

Mikeverdi on 22-12-2013
Through the Wall
Hi Gerald, and compliments of the season to you. I have often said 'you don't have to understand everything to know good writing when you see it' well done with this one.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. I saw you on YouTube reading at Wood Green. I'd like to go next year but I'd have to drive there. Problem is that I suspect there's no parking round there. Merry Christmas, Gerald.

Corin on 22-12-2013
Through the Wall
With me it’s usually Crab the Dog dragging me from dreams in order to be allowed to go out into the garden and howl at the moon!



As Keats wrote - - 'do we wake or sleep?’

Dave

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Dave. What is the answer to Keats' question? Gerald

Mikeverdi on 22-12-2013
Through the Wall
There's good news and bad news Gerald, the next UKA reading is in Scotland... there will be parking! Mike 🙂

Author's Reply:
Och noo.

deadpoet on 22-12-2013
Through the Wall
I found this poem upsetting as I envisaged all sorts of evil stuff going on in the neighbours flat. My neighbour is extremely quiet- a nice old lady in a wheelchair so I never feel disturbed. I might write about some of my nightmares and bad dreams though.

Merry Christmas

Pia
xx

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Pia. No evil going on, just a young couple with a sick child. A la prochaine, Gerald.

Bozzz on 22-12-2013
Through the Wall
Gerald, for me the pleas seem more likely to need "Extermination" from a kindly Dalek - if there be such. Or perhaps even a good long pee? Enjoyed the read for all that - three goes ... David

Author's Reply:
Thanks, David. It took three goes? - thanks for persevering. regards, Gerald. ( Just adding this note - a rare young man's rhyming poem - bugger the metre - called 'Landlady 1966' posted 12th Dec - I think you missed it. )


Aubade (posted on: 16-12-13)


Sadly, I imagine you will wake, too, because the silence has changed colour, the way, fluting across a murky water, a swan's light may gently startle you, gleaming through the curtains of your eyes. Wake, though with the softest of violence, snow has played you a nocturne of lightest down, quilted you in symphonic hush, mesmerised you in your sleep. A captive audience, your fidgeting legs are swathed, your cough stilled, by chords of white you are laid to rest at every cadence. Oblivious to the cold auditorium, your lulled capillary thoughts are tingling, pleasantly beating time. Wake, and they are jerking the pendulum, flailing, frantically rattling the case; and you are shivering in your bed - horribly alone, except for you, and the Arctic waste to face.

Archived comments for Aubade
Mikeverdi on 16-12-2013
Aubade
The first two lines do it for me, another gem Gerald; if a sad one. Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. Regards, Gerald.

Zoya on 17-12-2013
Aubade
Nice, imagery Mike!
Zoya

Author's Reply:
Many thanks for stopping by and commenting, Zoya. Regards, Gerald.

barenib on 17-12-2013
Aubade
I enjoyed and liked this very much, some really nice lines and the whole atmosphere is pleasing. John.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, John. I'm pleased you liked it. Gerald.

deadpoet on 18-12-2013
Aubade
Lovely images. Absolutely unique writing-though it did send a cold and desolate shiver through me. The poem worked so well for me!

Pia
xx

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Pia. Sorry about the chill. Thanks, Gerald.

bo_duke99 on 18-12-2013
Aubade
a real awakening, a Christmas present indeed - Greg

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Greg. Pleased you liked it. Gerald.

stormwolf on 19-12-2013
Aubade
Hi Gerald
This is your finest for me. 🙂

I have been absent for a short while but SO glad I did not miss this beauty. I love it. It speaks for me too.
The first two lines engage the reader...

I wish more would understand the need to catch the attention like this....

I could rave all day... line for line... but allow me to nominate it
and reassure you I 'felt' the voice all the way through.

I know poetry has many forms but I do love when I feel I am being 'read' to and I am feeling it too.

Alison x

Author's Reply:
Wow! That's a lovely comment even though I don't rate the word 'lovely.' I'm pleased this poem worked for you, Alison. Many thanks, Gerald.


stormwolf on 19-12-2013
Aubade
"
"Wake, though with the softest of violence,
snow has played you a nocturne of lightest
down, quilted you in symphonic hush,
mesmerised you in your sleep. "

In fact...some of the best poetry I have read on here or anywhere else in years.

Thank you! xxx


Author's Reply:
Thanks again, Alison, and thanks for the nomination, the rate and the 'hot' selection! Best wishes, Gerald.


Landlady 1966 (posted on: 09-12-13)
Ref 'In Place of Strife' - Government White Paper 1969.

She sits like a sausage in front of her telly, wasting one gnarled paw on her barren belly, and craning the other thin claw from drag to drag, between her vain-red lips of a stuck-at-home hag and the fusty air of a draughtless dwindling life. When the telly's done and ruthless night is come, she painfully inserts her frigid frame so glum between the sheets where Earnest turned his shoulder like the last time he died and made the bed grow colder - there she aches away the lonely hours like no-one's wife. She lies with staring sigh for nighties never lifted: soulless years when Earnest's pleasure never shifted across the unstained gap of their bitter union to fill the hollow where once she craved communion with him to gain peace in her mind in place of strife.

Archived comments for Landlady 1966
Mikeverdi on 09-12-2013
Landlady 1966
Oh Gerald, this is so good again; tremendous writing. I can feel the pain of the lost relationship, and it doesn't matter how it was lost; the pain is the same. 'When the telly's done and the ruthless night is come'. Mike

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Mike. One of my first poems, written some 43 years ago. Thanks, Gerald.



Kipper on 09-12-2013
Landlady 1966
Yes I like this too though with a little misgiving.
The pain and sadness of a relationship which was dead before Ernest had died is very real, as is her loneliness. It is without doubt a powerful piece of writing.
My only reservation is, would it be less powerful if she were not portrayed as so physically unattractive.
That said, great, Michael.


Author's Reply:
Thanks, Michael. This was an early attempt to write a rhyming poem about a landlady at whose house I did not enjoy staying in my post-grad year. I moved out at the earliest opportunity. For long time there was only the first stanza 'composed' in 1967 unfortunately driven by the rhyme but conveying some of the antipathy she made me feel towards her. Then the Wilson government produced a white paper in 1969 called 'In Place of Strife.' It occurred to me that I could go back to this poem and add a not necessarily true picture of this woman's history leading up to this non-epoch-changing quote. The end result is admittedly a bit rough and brutal but I value it as a record of an early attempt to write. however I have to live feeling guilty every day about the unbridgeable gap between the disgust evoked by the first stanza and the empathy conveyed in the next two. Keeping my tongue in my cheek helps a little. Cheers, Gerald.

deadpoet on 10-12-2013
Landlady 1966
Wow-desolate yet full of emotion. well done..

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting , Pia. Regards, Gerald.

ValDohren on 10-12-2013
Landlady 1966
Excellent work.
Val

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it. Thanks, Val. Gerald.

bo_duke99 on 11-12-2013
Landlady 1966
interesting jumping off point, and quite some execution

Author's Reply:
Thanks, bo_duke99. Nemo.


A Small Do (posted on: 06-12-13)


Engine capacities and a couple's performing dog keep the conversation going; so does someone's child at her elbow, with a noisy toy; or another, with its absence, still. More Camembert? Yes, please, to plug the holes in her pretence, until, on the drive home, the wintry sun breaks through the mist, and a perfect Turner sky, with its therapeutic banality, graces a silence she can bear.

Archived comments for A Small Do
Corin on 06-12-2013
A Small Do
Lovely last stanza.

Dave

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Dave. Gerald.

Nomenklatura on 06-12-2013
A Small Do
This is seriously very good writing. I know my opinion's not worth much in the grand scheme of things, but nevertheless...

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Ewan. Your opinion IS worth a lot, I assure you, thanks again, Gerald.

Pronto on 07-12-2013
A Small Do
I liked the originality of this piece.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Pronto. Regards, Nemo.

Red-Poppies on 08-12-2013
A Small Do
Loved the almost clipped down to the bone preciseness of this.

A very good piece of writing.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Red-Poppies. Nemo.

Mikeverdi on 08-12-2013
A Small Do
Well worth the Nib Gerald, very different; not sure I truly get the message, but I get the writing. Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. Glad you liked it. Gerald.

orangedream on 08-12-2013
A Small Do
Great stuff. Could identify.

Tina

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Tina. Regards, Gerald.

bo_duke99 on 11-12-2013
A Small Do
beautiful, and surely brilliant

Author's Reply:
Much appreciated. Thanks, bo_duke99. Nemo.


Magpie (posted on: 02-12-13)


Slicked back like a spiv, smirks a little, enjoys his bad reputation, sports plump belly in black and white frock-coat, open at front, nods and bows for the crowd, flash of blue satin; hands behind back, struts awkwardly on parade, in his banana republic.

Archived comments for Magpie
bo_duke99 on 02-12-2013
Magpie
don't know if I get the last line (but am trying) but as a whole thought this was ace, measured just right - Greg

Author's Reply:
Strutting like a Latin American president - banana republic - that's the image I was aiming for. Thanks, Greg.

dylan on 03-12-2013
Magpie
Liked the descriptive passages, particularly
" Has a slicked back look
like a spiv, ".
Would maybe change last line to something like-
"on parade,
inspecting his stale bread and crusts".

(This is just off the top of my head, but you get my drift).
Nice poem.

Orrabest,

D.


Author's Reply:
Thianks Dylan, for stopping by and commenting. Can't change the last line - the whole point of the poem and especially the last line is to convey the image of a petty dictator strutting his stufff in his domain. Gerald.

Andrea on 03-12-2013
Magpie
No, agree, the whole point is the last line. Excellent poem, Nemo.

Author's Reply:
Hi and thanks, Andrea. Nemo.

Corin on 03-12-2013
Magpie
Lovely Nemo,
Come on- this should be one of a series. How about Jackdaw, Wood Pigeon, Herring Gull, Kestrel, Starling, Puffin and all other birds with real character!

Dave

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Dave. I can't force birds poems - managed a passing reference to sparrows in 'The Chill Factor' (18/3) and 'Tree Love' (25/3) and I've done a squirrel. The problem with doing birds is finding the human image they suggest. Penguins spring to mind - could have a go at penguins. Cheers, Gerald

Bozzz on 03-12-2013
Magpie
Gerald I think you let this thief and scavenger off too lightly. Proud of his bad reputation yes, but if you or his wife lie dead in the road he will not hesitate to benefit and it's not your wallet he wants. Cannibal? Excellent piece...David

Author's Reply:
Thanks, David. I don't think I'll mind if he pecks me if I'm dead. Regards, Gerald.

deadpoet on 04-12-2013
Magpie
You got the description right on Gerald.. Quite unique- I like the previous comment about being pecked by one- that would be a natural way to disappear.

Pia
xx

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Piia. G


Espdaillac (posted on: 29-11-13)
Portrait of a French village

The church stands helpless above the village, its bell switched to silent since midnight, the count-down to eternity on hold. Second homers, holiday sleepers and atheists: les Rosbifs have bought up Le Lot in numbers. Arrive by night and darkness has dispelled centuries of pain like an analgesic; subsistence wound up like coal-mines and cotton mills; depression and grief sobbed into walls of stone; staying and starving or try emigration. It's a timid bell that comes on again at six; the quietness turns over and goes back to sleep though the summer sun is shining - but it shines to no purpose on vacant, unproductive fields; it's only value that grows on former farms. 1731 above the door of her crumbling cottage, a couple of ragged fields and an empty barn: the old woman had lived on, remembered the last flock of sheep; husband broken, faces of children, those who grew and sailed away. A small pair of leather boots, at least a century old, are curling in the heat, displayed by their new owners on the barn window sill. How quaint, some guest will remark; another will try to picture the wearer: a girl hauling water daily from the well, or the old woman, perhaps, enduring from dawn till dusk, stumbling and sticking it out: one of the world's unremembered dead, who has quietly left something to show.
Archived comments for Espdaillac
Nomenklatura on 29-11-2013
Espédaillac
Quality stuff, you put me there.
Regards
Ewan

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Ewan. I'm pleased you liked it. Gerald.

roger303 on 29-11-2013
Espédaillac
A beautifully descriptive and poignant piece.
Accomplished writing.
Regards
Roger

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, roger303. Regards, Nemo.

Mikeverdi on 30-11-2013
Espédaillac
A truly beautifully woven story, you captured the moment and me completely Gerald. It has to be a ten. Mike

Author's Reply:
Originally set out as a poem. Pleased it worked for you, Mike. Many thanks, Gerald.

bo_duke99 on 01-12-2013
Espédaillac
great writing, must say I'd be intrigued to see the poem treatment, but this is great as it is - Greg

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Greg. I'll post the poem version another time. Gerald.


After the Theatre (posted on: 29-11-13)


Vacating your seat, you too can make language move: so, elbowing to the exit is the camaraderie of culture, your carriage waits in the stack, concrete pillars are Corinthian columns, and driving up the greasy ramp, an exhilarating surge of metaphor. In the side-streets of reality, you devastatingly refute Eliot: it's all architectured down to size; the sky's a renaissance ceiling you could easily paint on your back, to one of Mozart's greatest hits. Oh, the puddled swish of driving home in the rain, beside yourself with optimism, finding all these original thoughts weaving through the slums, like beauty in rained-on mascara! And reaching home, how can you not admire the castle of your own routine that is better than no slippers and no cooking-for-one-smells in the right place with the photographs at your bedside, to remind you you won't be alone in the bed you've made properly for your fierce contentment? Clearly, you've left Uncle Vanya sobbing back at the theatre, and quite understandably, you've forgotten why he was.

Archived comments for After the Theatre
deadpoet on 29-11-2013
After the Theatre
This is absolutely brilliant Nemo. I am lost for words.

Piaxx

Author's Reply:
I'm so pleased you liked this poem, Pia - it's a personal favourite of mine, written over 20 years ago. Many thanks for the nomination! Regards, Gerald

Mikeverdi on 29-11-2013
After the Theatre
The best of you all in one poem, superb Gerald. Mike

Author's Reply:
I'm pleased I got this one down from the loft - though I'm having a bit of trouble remembering what I meant! Thanks for reading and commenting, Mike, and for the rate! Regards, Gerald.

roger303 on 29-11-2013
After the Theatre
Damned good!

Author's Reply:
Thanks, roger303. Nemo.

Ionicus on 29-11-2013
After the Theatre
I am glad that you commented as follows:

"I'm pleased I got this one down from the loft - though I'm having a bit of trouble remembering what I meant!"

Because, to be honest, I don't really understand what you meant.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Luigi. I've now remembered what I meant so I'm even more pleased I got it down from the loft. Regards, Gerald.

Bozzz on 29-11-2013
After the Theatre
Some great images, never mind why. It has beginning, middle and end. An excellent piece, Gerald.....David

Author's Reply:
The beginning, the middle and the end - as long as they're in the right order, eh? Thanks for reading and approving, David. Regards, Gerald.

Buschell on 29-11-2013
After the Theatre
I always feel inspired after seeing or hearing something inspiring. Like a really good ditty, like this one. Looking at stuff done even only a year ago can leave you wondering who wrote it. Is that how you felt when you resurrected this? Darren.

Author's Reply:
Hi Darren. I don't always recognise myself when I revisit some of my old poems though I do take pleasure in savouring some of the turns of phrase I've come up with. I posted this poem with some trepidation as it does rather cruelly poke fun at the self-styled poet in the story. Anyway, thanks for reading. Best wishes, Gerald.

bo_duke99 on 01-12-2013
After the Theatre
didn't get the self styled poet, but some cracking lines...like beauty in rained-on mascara - Greg

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, bo_duke99. The character I've created is a sad lonely person who is pretentious enough like so many of us to attempt to write poetry. He/she doesn't deserve to be mocked but has brought out the cruel streak in me. Nemo.

dylan on 01-12-2013
After the Theatre
Really fine poem.
Loved the penultimate stanza-

And reaching home, how can you not
admire the castle of your own routine
that is better than no slippers and
no cooking-for-one-smells in the right place
with the photographs at your bedside,
to remind you you won’t be alone
in the bed you’ve made properly
for your fierce contentment?

Orrabest,

D.

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Dylan. Thanks, Gerald.


Home for Christmas (posted on: 25-11-13)
Revised November 2015

They left the hospital while it was being done - the cold air took them by the arm; streets, cars, people, floated, swayed past. I'll do it, the surgeon said; melanoma... such a sweet name. I haven't lost one yet, he added, but I will scalpel-sharp words across thousands of miles of traffic-noise, their daughter's screams in their ears open-line they couldn't switch off, as they spacewalked around the craters in Oxford Street, with their deceptively firm footholds of Christmas cheer.

Archived comments for Home for Christmas
Mikeverdi on 25-11-2013
Home for Christmas
I've got my stupid head on today Gerald, any chance of a brief explanation? Mike

Author's Reply:
Sorry if the meaning's not clear, Mike. Perhaps if I put 'the surgeon said' instead of 'he said'? Thanks for having a go, Gerald. Will send explanation.

deadpoet on 25-11-2013
Home for Christmas
I think this may be quite personal- about a couple where one of them is ill and they 'deceptively' keep their Christmas cheer. Am I way off? It is slightly puzzling....

Pia
xx

Author's Reply:
Sorry if the meaning's not clear, Pia. Perhaps if I put 'the surgeon said' instead of 'he said'? Thanks for having a go, Gerald. Will send explanation.

Mikeverdi on 25-11-2013
Home for Christmas
That's brought it into perspective, thanks for sharing this Gerald.

Author's Reply:
Thanks again, Mike. And thanks for the rate! Gerald.

Bozzz on 25-11-2013
Home for Christmas
Gerald - This is beautifully written and so true. My take is that worry turns to escapism, as acupuncture is used to stop the pain. But sticking pins only works for a while before the brain finds other paths to register what is going on. Probably way out too...good work...David

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, David. Experience told me that worry is not an anaesthetic. Regards, Gerald.

Bonnie on 26-11-2013
Home for Christmas
I thought this was good. It made me think of leaving someone, a child maybe, to have surgery, and walking around London to occupy yourself whilst waiting.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Bonnie, for stopping by and commenting. Memo.

bo_duke99 on 26-11-2013
Home for Christmas
read the 'with surgeon' version, the form of the poem means too explicit an approach would spoil the fragile mood, really enjoyed - Greg

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Greg, but it's not clear whether you favour 'the surgeon' being left in or not. Gerald.

bo_duke99 on 26-11-2013
Home for Christmas
came back after your reply and looked again to see if I could imagine 'without', and hey presto - I would have got it, and the 'he said' is maybe a mite more elegant?

Author's Reply:

bo_duke99 on 26-11-2013
Home for Christmas
came back after your reply and looked again to see if I could imagine 'without', and hey presto - reckon I would have got it, and the 'he said' is maybe a mite more elegant?

Author's Reply:
Thanks for having another look. You've confirmed my instinct that I should stick to my 'without' version. G

Kipper on 27-11-2013
Home for Christmas
I looked at this early on Monday and confess that too was puzzled. Having decided to have another look, and with the benefit of all the above comments, including your own I see now what I could not see before.
What a difference.
One phrase I particularly like is 'the cold air took us by the arm', so meaningful now that I have got it.
One can't help wondering obout the little girl and how she fared
Michael

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, Michael. This poem combines the our hospital experiences with those of other parents with sick children. I do not know if the child survived whose treatment for melanoma inspired the poem as we never saw her parents again. I like to think she did. It was a long time ago - 1985. Regards, Gerald

ValDohren on 28-11-2013
Home for Christmas
Oh so poignant and moving Gerald. Well penned.
Val

Author's Reply:
I'm pleased you liked it, Val. Thanks for commenting, Gerald.


Bombsite 1954 (posted on: 22-11-13)


Either mistaken half a mile off target from the blacked-out Mersey docks, or off-loaded onto with full apologies on the way back to the Fatherland, it was a hovering void still faintly overhung with the miasma of loss - but still a house, despite its toppled gate-posts, draughty entrance-hall, open-plan rooms either side and one or two tiles where the kitchen had been. To think living took place there once, all traces being long since levelled off, where boys in worsted shorts crouched, and killed sixpenny baddies, while neighbours in rooms remembered less and less as rationing came to an end at last.

Archived comments for Bombsite 1954
Mikeverdi on 22-11-2013
Bombsite
Terrifically atmospheric Gerald, old enough to remember the results of the blitz, still with us into the early sixties.
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. I'm pleased you liked it. Gerald.

bo_duke99 on 23-11-2013
Bombsite
a nice idea, and worked through well

Author's Reply:
Thanks, bo_duke99, Nemo.


Another Winter (posted on: 18-11-13)


Yet again it catches us unawares - we even tell next door when it's here. We soon forget we were once surprised by swallows returning from their retreat. Young mothers stoop and struggle, pushing buggies against the wind. Sealed houses steam under pressure like cocoons of heat waiting to burst. Children huddle in icy playgrounds, playing games with plumes of breath. The old turn down the heat and sit it out, poorer each year and stiff with cold. Nursing a sadness that needs the sun, they make tea and stay in another day. They peer through rain-spattered windows and scowl at leaden skies and skeletal trees. A neighbour passes with his coated dog, dodges puddles, a cheery wave at parted curtains.

Archived comments for Another Winter
Mikeverdi on 18-11-2013
Another Winter
Yes, that sounds like it Gerald...I'm the one with the dogs 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. A space-filler, not one of my best poems. Gerald.

deadpoet on 18-11-2013
Another Winter
I'm the one inside the warm house-looking out at the dog-walker...

'the old will turn down...' you got it wrong way round

I specially like the lines about the children in the playground...
very good Nemo-

Pia
x

Author's Reply:
Hi, thanks, Pia. I was just changing the verbs from the future to the present and you read this in an in-between version. Winter has arrived here now so the present tense is more appropriate. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Much appreciated. Must be very cold where you are. Gerald.

bo_duke99 on 18-11-2013
Another Winter
neatly done, Nursing a sadness that needs the sun, is a winner - even as evening was great :o))

Author's Reply:
Thanks, bo_duke99. Even as evening corrected. A predictive text thing, I think. Nemo.

Kipper on 18-11-2013
Another Winter
Nicely done, puts it into perspective.
Michael

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Michael. Gerald.

Texasgreg on 19-11-2013
Another Winter
A vivid piece that takes you there. Ahhh. I like to think of the crackling fireplace and glass of wine. 🙂

Enjoyed...

Greg 🙂

 photo Gunspincowboy.gif

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Greg. I'm pleased you liked it. Gerald.

Bozzz on 19-11-2013
Another Winter
Hi Nemo. Of its kind it is really and truly excellent - what more do you expect me to say?!...David

Author's Reply:
Hi David. You liked my piece? Great. Rhythm OK. Gerald.

barenib on 19-11-2013
Another Winter
Enjoyed this, it had a nice feel. Did you mean to say 'even' in the first line? John.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, John. 'Even' is there because we are so surprised by the arrival of winter that we 'even' tell next-door it's here. Gerald.


A Poetic Muse (posted on: 15-11-13)


My dear Nitty Nora. the biddy-explorer, is made of mod-plastic and wears old sea-boots. As I am rolling dreams of my own, she takes off her boots and fiddles me a dumpling adagio in the fire below where the fiery poet burns and pokes for words.

Archived comments for A Poetic Muse
ifyouplease on 15-11-2013
A Poetic Muse
had to google "nitty nora" and "biddy-explorer" but it was worth it! lovely read.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, ifyouplease. A poem from my student days, nearly half a century ago. Nemo.



Nomenklatura on 15-11-2013
A Poetic Muse
Don't they have them now?

Multum in parvo, as usual.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Ewan. I think Nitty Nora has beeb eradicated, but not thr nits. Gerald.

deadpoet on 15-11-2013
A Poetic Muse
Hi I had to google Nitty Nora the Biddy explorer too. I loved this- quality as usual Nemo.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Pia. One of my first poems written when I was a student, just messing about. Gerald.
.

bo_duke99 on 18-11-2013
A Poetic Muse
a real poem

Author's Reply:
Thanks, bo_duke99. Nemo.


Armistice (posted on: 11-11-13)
R.I.P. Private George Ellison

Sarge says it's nearly time, the guns are quieter now. But it was bad earlier on, their partin' shot, I s'ppose. Threw the lot at us, made us keep our 'eads down good an' proper. The mist's clearin' now, the smoke's goin', too. Not the stench, though, don't think that'll ever go. The sun's gettin' warmer. It's almost eleven. We 'eard the news a few minutes ago. Too late for poor ole George, 'e copped it round 'alf nine. Now it's gone quiet, eerie-like, we're all stunned, just standin' round, for no reason, was there ever a reason? Can't remember silence like this for years, except now I can hear the poundin' in me 'ead, like in t' mill back 'ome. Bet they're celebratin' over there, flags out, bells ringin' an' street parties, like Mafekin', an' all that. What are we going to do now? No one seems to know. Better go an' get George.
The CWGC records that the last British soldier killed in World War One was Private George Edwin Ellison of the 5th Royal Irish Lancers. He was killed at Mons (where he had also fought in 1914) at 09.30, just 90 minutes before the ceasefire.
Archived comments for Armistice
Kipper on 13-11-2013
Armistice
Nice idea and well put together. It's an I intriguing thought that someone had to be the last one to die, but a heartbreaking one.
Michael


Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, Michael. Gerald

bo_duke99 on 13-11-2013
Armistice
interesting subject sparks some bright ideas here

Author's Reply:
Thanks, bo_duke99. I'm pleased you liked the bright ideas. Gerald

Buschell on 13-11-2013
Armistice
I like this idea a lot and you have done it proud. A dubious and heartbreaking honour for Mr George Ellis. Darren.

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Darren. Cheers, Gerald.


Estate (posted on: 08-11-13)


Gathering-points, like standing stones of no hope, young faces, blank and medieval-daft, strong hands, dangling like pecked convicts, bright eyes, grown dim like flickering tallow, proud heads, bowed beneath baron's mace, feral minds, lying waste like idling fallow.

Archived comments for Estate
orangedream on 08-11-2013
Estate
Less is often more, as demonstrated, so effectively here.
Good stuff.

Tina

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Tina, for stopping by and commenting, Gerald.

Buschell on 10-11-2013
Estate
In hindsight this was me...

these lines are friggin' ace,

strong hands,
dangling
like pecked convicts,

the imagery is magnificent throughout..

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Darren, for dropping by and liking this. Gerald.


A Visit to the South Bank (posted on: 04-11-13)


''Endless. The possibilities are endless.'' I like it. In fact, I tell my wife. She claims she noticed it first. We'll never agree. Our son, James, and his new partner, Moya, join in as well. Soon all the visitors on the fifth floor of Tate Modern are joining in. If you stare at an exhibit for long enough, other people think you've cracked it and have worked out the conundrum, and feel obliged to join in, to avoid looking stupid. For example, the one hundred and twenty house-bricks arranged two-deep five by twenty in a rectangle on the floor, with don't-touch lines around them. But much more fun is to get everyone stooping and genuflecting at the four three-foot high cubes with mirrors on all the visible sides. If you stand in front of each cube and peer over the top into the one opposite, you can see the two cubes reflecting each other down what appears to be a tunnel, endlessly. Even more fascinating is the fact that, as you change from one cube to other, the curvature of each tunnel is different from the next. The fun doesn't end there, because if you look sideways into the cubes rather than over the top, you get another set of reflected cubes, but this time they curve to the side, and don't go down a tunnel. Now there are so many visitors peering at the cubes that eventually we move away and stand back, admiring our handiwork. All the new visitors to this room are wondering what is going on and are approaching the cubes. The Indian attendant is jubilant, he has never seen so many people interested in this exhibit before. ''You have made me very busy,'' he says. ''I am usually very bored, but now I am having to be very watchful to make sure people don't cross the line.'' It is my son he speaks to and I feel slighted, as I reckon I started the whole thing off. Not according to my wife. One thing worries me - was this the artist's intention? Someone will say it doesn't matter. Modern art is modern art. Is the first creative bit what the artist does? Perhaps the next creative bit is what you make of it. Rather like the flattering captions on the wall which say more about the exhibit, you suspect, than the artist intended. ************ ''All is not what it seems,'' I almost remark to nobody in particular, as I run my finger along the backs of the second-hand books. Therefore, the manner in which I run my finger along the backs of the books will be interpreted in different ways by nobody in particular who happens to be looking in my direction or visualising the scene if reading this. Or it will go unremarked, like the thought that preceded the movement of the finger, or the brushstroke, the laying of the bricks, the simile. 'Confluence.' Running my finger over the backs of the books, I have time to savour this word that comes from nowhere, now, like the theme of a story, under Waterloo Bridge, in the sunshine, before my wife returns with coffee from the National Film Theatre opposite; this word which insinuates its way into a narrative, bringing lives together like books on a stall, in all weathers and all seasons: the word itself relishing its own metaphorical magnificence as it mingles the merging waters before discharging them mercilessly into a mighty ocean of possibilities. Second hand books on a bookstall, mercilessly thrown together into a mass grave of writers' inspiration. Do we care for the thought that precedes a simile or is it somehow a mere nuga compared with that which precedes the dab of a brush or the laying of one hundred and twenty bricks? Isn't a Moby Dick worth a Fighting Temeraire or a Madame Bovary worth a Rodin's Kiss? Yes, we all say in unison, but we're glad these books are knowingly undersold. 'Strada'.la strada.strata....street.my life's like a faraway street I can't remember: I walk down it and afterwards I can't remember what it was like, how the buildings were arranged, what the buildings looked liked, who passed me, anything that happened. My wife can remember everything. If I want to know, I ask her. She remembers. If I wanted to know what I ate at 'Strada', she would remember. Moya described growing up in Belfast during 'The Troubles.' That much I can remember of our visit to 'Strada', but not the shape of the tables, not the waiter's face nor if he had beads of sweat on his nose; not the time it took to get the bill; if it was the same waiter who brought it or another; if the toilets were memorable in any way. These might be the sort of things you remember, but not me. It is the Spring Bank Holiday. It seems to bring them out: singletons secretly scribbling in notebooks. It is the 'strada effect' - they mustn't miss a thing; they mustn't let their lives get away from them; they mustn't forget a thing: the drama of the setting, the whole South Bank thing, the National Theatre, the National Film Theatre, Tate Modern, the book stalls, the Thames. They all seem to be young. They are tucked away in corners, huddled behind walls, squatting on grass verges, cradled in the arms of statues, pretending to be out of sight; the writers of our great future, keeping diaries, making notes, getting it all down on paper. Hopefuls, carpediemists. How I envy them! Perhaps these scribblers, too, will have their day and finally end up on the second hand bookstalls, where they will undoubtedly be content to settle for temporary immortality, it being better than none. The four of us have come to the end of a pleasant afternoon. Before parting, we pause again at the bookstalls, exchange words about books we have read or mean to. I am recommended an author whose name I immediately forget. One last desultory glance at the books and I am astonished to come across a copy of 'Elegies' by Douglas Dunn, the poems he wrote following the death of his wife. ''What on earth is this doing here? How can people part with books like this? It won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award in 1985!'' ''Probably a house clearance,'' James remarks, ''a job lot.'' The slender volume flicks open at 'Reading Pascal in the Lowlands'. My eyes fall once again on the lines: 'It is discourteous to ask about Accidents, or of the sick, the unfortunate. I do not need to, for he says ''Leukaemia''. We look at the river, his son holding a rod, The line going downstream in a cloud of flies.' Somewhere, a young doctor was making his way down a hospital corridor to speak to the parents of a child. His white coat was flapping as he walked. He was carrying a file with the results of a test. As he drew closer, he changed direction abruptly and came back a few minutes later, having got his face right. To give bad news. I snap out of my reverie and replace the book. Our day out has ended. We say goodbye and return to our homes.
Archived comments for A Visit to the South Bank
Mikeverdi on 04-11-2013
A Visit to the South Bank
I enjoyed the read Gerald, I will read it again. Mike

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Mike. Thanks, Gerald.

Weefatfella on 04-11-2013
A Visit to the South Bank
 photo 89f4a5d0-5f15-4509-881e-443a08debcc5_zps272a8411.jpg

Wow! If your intention was to imitate modern art with this piece. You have succeeded. (I mean this as a compliment.) Modern art is a complete mystery to me. This piece, with its flippant toying with the cubes. The analysis of the whole of the modern art appreciation, through vindicating arguments of their own making, made me laugh.
Well done.
Weefatfella.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Weefatfella. The Tate bit actually happened. Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 06-11-2013
A Visit to the South Bank
Still good reading Gerald! :-). Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks again, Mike. It was a strand in a longer short story which I'll post another time. Gerald.


Pinochet and Foie Gras (posted on: 04-11-13)


The dinner was in my honour, he said, for the visiting Englishman. French exchange in eighty-eight. Jean-Pierre's friends included another smallholder like him, a land-owning communist lawyer, a teacher, a builder, and a young woman who'd fled from Chile. Whatever we talked about has eroded with time; if Proudhon and land-owning were aired, wine would have kept things light - our persiflage, a safer world, worlds away from Pinochet. The embodiment of grief sat still, a tight-lipped aura we tried to include, to ease the discomfiture that she'd brought with her what she'd left behind. Next morning, a shrill dawn chorus of shrieking, clanging pain woke me like an arresting knock on the door, manhandling me out of bed. Over breakfast, Jean-Pierre smiled, dsol, force-feeding, he said, it's cruel but necessary as if an apology could ever suffice.

Archived comments for Pinochet and Foie Gras
Nomenklatura on 04-11-2013
Pinochet and Foie Gras
Terrific.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, glad you liked it, Ewan. Gerald

Ionicus on 04-11-2013
Pinochet and Foie Gras
An impressive vignette, Gerald.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by, Luigi, and thanks for the rate! Gerald.

barenib on 04-11-2013
Pinochet and Foie Gras
A mini novel in a poem! Interesting and slightly dramatic! John.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, barenib. I'm pleased it did something for you. Gerald.

Bozzz on 07-11-2013
Pinochet and Foie Gras
For me, Gerald, this a good interesting piece of prose, like a bar of chocolate whose flavour is broken, nay almost lost, by separation into pieces. The staccato sounds in its reading make a presentation that does not do the piece justice. Maybe it's just me tonight......David




Author's Reply:
Thank you for reading and commenting on this piece, David, though I can't see why you call it prose or knock the fact it's in 'pieces' or sections like many poems! I find you have to break the bar of chocolate into pieces in order to eat it; at least, I prefer to eat my Green and Blacks 85% like that rather than bite into the whole bar. As for the 'staccato sounds', surely they are appropriate to the subject matter, n'est-ce pas? Anyway ... Gerald.

Bozzz on 08-11-2013
Pinochet and Foie Gras
Hi Gerald. The OED says poetry must have rhythm. I just find it hard to understand why some people take a perfectly good piece of prose writing, chop the sentences into uneven bits and then call it poetry. I could not find rhythm in the piece - and calling it prose is not to denigrate it. Your prose is excellent.
As to eating, well thank god we don't eat prose or poetry, but cherish both the parts and the whole. Regards, David

Author's Reply:
It seems to me, David, that the OED definition is extremely narrow and rules out a lot of modern poetry from over 100 years going back, say, as far as to Laforgue, which may be unrhythmic chopped up prose but through the power of its imagery achieves a different effect from that of prosaic prose.
I was prompted by your remarks to look again at D.H Lawrence's poems. If you look, for instance, at 'Kangaroo', 'Turkey-cock' and 'The Mosquito' - these unrhymed poems with lines of varying lengths could be set out as pieces of prose but they are not. Each line has its own natural rhythm, that of the way it sounds when spoken aloud and its rhythm may be different from that of the previous and subsequent lines. Gerald.


On a School Leavers' Outing (posted on: 01-11-13)


''Are your parents still alive?'' Mary asked, in May 1996. There was a sort of yellowy glow in the light brown sky. The day would be hot and sticky. '' Expect sneezing, wheezing and personal hygiene problems So, let it all hang out,'' twanged the local radio station, before turning the music back up, to jangle and fray, it seemed. We'd been travelling for about half an hour and had another thirty miles or so to go. Baseball cap turned backwards, the tall one called Billy Jones began manfully letting in the M25 to impress the girls, opening sunroofs, until one with rusty catches wrecked his chances. He tried to laugh it off as jeers of 'wanker' gauntleted him back to his seat. It was one of those elderly coaches which, having wasted their youth touring Europe, was no longer quite up to serving England as well as she expected. Before long, no doubt, it would be sent to grunt out its last days ferrying civilisation and guns round Africa, or collapse, overstuffed and oversuckled like a weary sow in the heat of India. You felt the fusty fabric of the seats bore the imprints of the dead and the dying: pensioners packing in their last days; football fans fading away after the final whistle; children who'd gone home for the last time and left themselves on the beach. About to sit their GCSEs in a few days' time, the forty-five Bishops Cross Comprehensive pupils were in no hurry to arrive; nor were they thinking it was better to travel. They'd done travelling. Holidays: they'd seen the world already and it was as boring as being asked to show where they'd been was to be found on a map. As if they could. When Mary asked her question, they were already eating crisps and sweets at nine o'clock in the morning because everybody was eating crisps and sweets at nine o'clock in the morning, while sharing walkmans and tapes with their mates; and marking out their areas with insults about taste in music - and loners. Loners who stuck to their guns and shrivelled behind their shields, or who changed tastes as often as they belched and lashed out with their bottles of Coke to show they weren't loners at all. Soon they'd be swaggering. All forty-five of them, and their mates on the other coaches, and the other schools, they'd all be swaggering. And they'd show us. This was their fifth and final end-of-year trip to Chessington World of Adventures. If they screamed and got frightened, or pretended to, and got soaking wet on the rides, it would be like the falling in and out of love they'd done so often, and would reckon they'd got over and would never remember. And they would make a deliberate point of not remembering this day for the rest of their lives, the best days of which were at this moment being towed, rattling and squeaking, to the breaker's yard. And they wouldn't admit they'd just had the best days of their lives because they didn't agree with what teachers told them. On principle. Looking very summery and agreeably substantial in shorts and a revealing, sleeveless blouse, Mary was a Special Needs assistant who hadn't had the disconcerting pleasure of my company before. She had enveloping warmth and a heady, inexpensive perfume that took thirty years off me as well as any madeleine. She would need, however, to be good at her job to keep a conversation going with me, or someone had tipped her off, I hoped, and supplied her with a set of questions before she got on the coach. For both of us it would be either chat or have an awkward silence. I'd done some professional sitting with the pupils at the back to see they settled down for as long as I could put off having to move forward to appear sociable. As I nervously eased myself onto the side of my seat which was furthest from the expanses of her arm and thigh, I saw she had a newspaper. The Sun. She apologised: ''My son brings it back from his paper-round,'' and I immediately felt less tense: she'd be able to offer me it if we ran out of conversation. Her last question was disconcerting. In successfully dealing with the others: the usual ''Is your wife a teacher?'' and ''How old are your children?'', I had told all and hardly had any secrets left. Suddenly, nodding and smiling were coming so easily that I found I didn't need to counter her questions with my own as she supplied the information herself anyway. Butwere my parents still alive? I had to think quickly, keep my face right, and suppress incipient embarrassment because, like a sack of flour, her contents had settled, producing zones of sticky heat where we touched. Sensing her line of questioning meant she was going to make another revelation about herself, I wondered if I would be able to cope if she wanted to share something unpleasant. Would my hesitant interpersonal skills extend to showing sympathy, to grief-counselling? I was beginning to think I had shown too much empathy for my own good. ''Sit down, please, Billy,'' I snapped. ''I just wanted the driver to play this tape, sir.'' ''Not a good idea, Billy, he's got these road-works to get through.'' In fact, it was more complicated than this; there was the inner me to think about. How long did I have to come up with an answer? I was reeling on three counts. Firstly, she'd hit me with the implication that I looked old enough to have parents who might be on their way, but I'd convinced myself that unless you got ill, or had an accident, or had early death in your genes, you could look after yourself, and choose to go when you wanted, when you'd done all the 'carpe diem' possible. This might entail practically living forever. But we couldn't have too many people thinking like that, could we? There aren't enough Eastbournes in England! So, I didn't want to let that bit of my private person slip out, did I? ''Are you any good at fixing walkmans, sir? My tape's got stuck.'' ''I'll see what I can do, Georgia-Lee. Go and sit down.'' ''Thank you, sir.'' She minced along the catwalk back to her seat. Count number two: there was the business of being upset. Grieving and all that. My headmaster claimed he was sorry when I told him my father had died. Better if he'd asked first how I felt. Funny how people think you'll be upset. My mother didn't seem upset either, not during the short address in the crematorium - there really wasn't much the vicar could say; nor anyone else for that matter: not after the curtains had closed; and not during the trip back to the house at a faster speed, as fast as was respectable because there was only the Social Services job left to do - the one with no one still alive or no one bothering - and then they could knock off early. ''Put your litter in the bags!'' I yelled, retrieving an empty Coke can which had appeared by my feet. The cars followed a route I knew by heart, streets behind Tranmere Rovers' football ground in which I'd played as a child, ridden my bike, grazed my knees - days when I could have started preparing for his death. I could have looked at the tarmac outside number 26 Parkstone Road and said to myself this would be where the shiny black hearse would park and, in the tradition of the well-trained horse-drawn variety, relieve itself with a little puddle of equally shiny black oil. And we'd come out of the house, the three of us, and follow his coffin, to the crematorium. My mother, my sister and myself. And a few friends he didn't have. With miserable faces. But I didn't prepare for it; I went out to play instead - in the fifties - when you had the conspiracies of silence, the whispering, people drawing curtains - iron curtains, spies everywhere. And you took off your cap when hearses went by, you didn't stare, you showed respect - except for the King, of course, when he died - then you could stare. On Movietone. Clearly he didn't matter; it was all right to look at his fancy coffin and all those streets of people with their miserable faces. ''Turn it up, driver!'' A track they approved of began playing. Catafalque, cortge: lovely new words and Miss Groves, whose need to stand you on a chair and slap your legs if you talked in the juniors didn't diminish in the slightest when she became Mrs Baker, could have set us a project on the King's funeral. She could have said ''and don't forget to use any nice words you've learnt.'' The late King George. All that tragedy wasted. She was no better when she announced: ''Christopher's not here today. He's lost his mother.'' She didn't say ''died.'' Perhaps Mrs Baker's still alive, crippled with guilt in a home, realising at last that some of us who hadn't begun to understand what was behind the iron curtains must have thought Christopher was very careless. He was back the next day anyway, in goal as usual; not looking any different, when we stared. ''Shut up, you loner! We don't want to hear that crap!'' Matter-of-fact was what it was, my father's do, like a combination of putting her best hat on and going down town to pay the rates on time and getting someone to take her old cooker away. She wasn't unfeeling; I did see her cry once - when we took our old cat, Peter, after he'd had a bad case of constipation in the coal-shed, to the vets, and she heard the whiff of gas. This time she was past crying. And not because his death was not unexpected - what with all those strokes he'd had and all those blessed trips to the hospital. With her feet. ''Bugger'' and ''swine'' - those were the words she kept using, to his empty chair. Not the vicar, he didn't use words like that - he stuck to saying what vicars say - that death's a wall and one day we'll see what's on the other side. Not him, I hope, I expect my mother thought. Not that I had any reason to think that during the service. They'd always seemed a not too unhappy couple whose rows were reasonably quiet and didn't happen too often, and who didn't embarrass you in front of your mates. ''Bugger'' and ''swine'' - she explained later. My sister was older, she already knew. ''Who are you calling a loner?'' Not upset, not grieving, none of us. Was I meant to tell Mary? That we must have been an odd family? That she was sitting next to a scarred member of this odd family? Someone who had driven two hundred and fifty miles back home to Birkenhead to see his father in hospital, and had to live with the memory of having to sit and watch helplessly while he dribbled and spilt his drink, kicking his restless legs that were snarled up in aertex blankets? A son who, on several ''last'' visits had said ''Goodbye and see you next time, Dad''; and noticed he had started holding onto my hand a little longer each time, his expression somewhere between late affection, panic and balls-up. Was I part of his balls-up? An accident in an air-raid shelter? ''Hard luck, driver! You missed that one!'' Count number three: what to say about my mother? ''How will I ever manage when he's gone?'' over and over in their house always as cold as the winter outside. Did she mean how would she cope with not having him there, getting on her nerves, twiddling knobs on the radio till she screamed at him to stop and the widower next door turned his television up? But she couldn't blame him for the cold. Too house-proud for her own good. Obsessive. She'd never wanted them ''coming in, making messes'' to fit central heating. ''They'd make bits everywhere. Bad enough with him never clearing up.'' Hypothermia. Poor circulation and falling over. I followed her, slowly, upstairs. ''I can't even change a light-bulb. He did everything.'' Fetching the little ladder he kept in the box-room for little jobs - while refusing to take out life-insurance for the big one - I began showing her how to change a light bulb - I thought I'd better change it anyway as she reckoned it was ''about to go'' - I looked down: she had dropped to the floor of the landing, and was screaming and kicking her legs. ''I can't stand it! I can't stand it!'' - a powerful technique she'd used nearly half a century before to stop me blubbing with cold in the bath when there was no hot water, and just an effete paraffin heater, making a stink. ''Billy! Just what do you think you're playing at?'' Say that she's fallen over so often she's gone into a home? ''Never thought my children would put me in an institution!" Say that her numbness one day turned to anger? That she's started walking the streets in her nightdress, wanting to die? That, unable to do so, she lives only to seize unhappiness and turn it into an art-form? That she keeps remembering his last word to her was ''sorry.'' That why he said sorry has been on her mind ever since? That she doesn't know whether it was for dying and leaving her to it, or for his first act of violence when they were newly married and he beat her breasts black and blue? ''The way she kept house,'' he complained, to her parents. Or the other time when he broke her thumb in a fight? During the war. After she called in when she was down town. With my sister. Saw him on his knees. Over ''that bit of a girl'' in his bicycle shop. On the counter, dangling her legs. And all the time she had someone else, but he still kept going out in the evenings, pathetically, ''to stretch his legs'' past her house. Still going years later. Took me with him. A row of houses opposite the Co-op. Or was he just sorry he was making another mess for her clear up? Perhaps I should simply say she keeps wanting her house back, where she was happier when she was lonely, cold and falling over? Or that she pours out tea rather well, for the other residents in the home? ''Sorry, missed what you said,'' contorting my face to mean I couldn't hear very well above the grumbling of the engine. ''I said are your parents still alive?'' ''I lost my father about ten years ago. My mother's in a home. She's got all her faculties, though.'' ''Would you like a sweet, sir, ma'am?'' It was Billy Jones, limiting the damage, his cap turned the other way. ''Er.Thank you very muchVery kind. I'll save it for later.'' ''Not for me, thanks, I'm watching my weight, Billy,'' Mary chuckled, releasing a whiff of perfume as she shook. ''Go on, ma'am.'' ''Oh, all right. Thanks. Now hurry up back to your seat, please.'' Making sure he obeyed, she turned to look over the seat. It was like removing sticking plaster: the adjoining patches of skin coming apart. As her pendulous breasts swung past my ear, I said, ''Mind if I have a quick look at your paper?'' By now Billy had sat down. Mary settled back into her seat and handed me the paper. I looked up a few moments later, and contemplated the road ahead, curving round, almost imperceptibly, in a vast, satisfying circle. Calmly, I set about trying to fix Georgia-Lee's walkman.
Archived comments for On a School Leavers' Outing
Nomenklatura on 01-11-2013
On a School Leavers Outing
You've definitely a memoir in you. Atmospheric, layered and very well done.

Author's Reply:
Many thanks for reading this and for your appreciation, Ewan. Thanks, too, if you had something to do with the nib. Cheers, Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 02-11-2013
On a School Leavers Outing
This was just brilliant, so many great lines Gerald. Those of us of a certain age will get this; it's all there. Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks reading this, Mike. And thanks for the rate! I'm pleased you liked it. Gerald.


Clearance (posted on: 28-10-13)


Airtight. No sound. No Is that you? above the TV turned up too loud. No feeble getting up to proffer hand or kiss. No shuffling round the assembly-kit of treasured things that made a home. No ghosts of chirpy whistling days with windows that breathed, seasons strolling in for a chat, grubby knees at open doors, laughter scampering up and down the stairs. No fidgeting between naps, no turning a blurred gaze from the incomprehensible street to cross-examine the other chair. No sobbing into the night. Interminable night, fingering things, like a dealer, leaving a smell.

Archived comments for Clearance
franciman on 28-10-2013
Clearance
This one sings Gerald.
The song is sad but there is a wistful, gladsome reprise that lifts the music. Its magic is in the understated descriptive nature of the verse.
Great Stuff,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Jim. I'm enjoying your response to this little piece. Regards, Gerald.

deadpoet on 28-10-2013
Clearance
This is such a good description of loss and grief and in a way a sort of resignation. It was sad indeed and yes a song in a way.

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Pia. I'm pleased you liked it. Gerald

Kipper on 28-10-2013
Clearance
nemo
It's no secret that sometimes I struggle to 'get' the story, the meaning, skilfully hidden, sometimes too skilfully, within the words of poetry; something that those more attuned seem to do with ease.
With this one I felt I knew almost from the start where it was going, and was drawn into the sad, but all too common emptiness of one left behind.
Very moving.
Michael

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Michael. This is a pruned down reworking of an earlier poem called 'Goldfish' posted 19th April this year. Regards, Gerald.

EmotiveSoul on 29-10-2013
Clearance
I cannot add to what has already been said, except this pulls on the heart strings of life. Well written. Daz

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Daz. glad you liked it. Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 29-10-2013
Clearance
A truly excellent discriptive write Gerald, one of your best in my opinion. Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mikel. This is a pruned down reworking of an earlier poem called 'Goldfish' which you also liked, posted 19th April this year. Regards, Gerald. (And thanks for the rate, and if you nominated me!)

Ionicus on 29-10-2013
Clearance
A neat one. Congratulations on the nib.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Ionicus. Gerald.


A Family Man (posted on: 25-10-13)


''Mr Hussein sends his apologies: things are difficult at work; he can't change his shifts anymore to come to these meetings.'' We shall miss you, Mr Hussein. Dexterously your chubby brown fingers wove the fabric of your story, the magic carpet that has flown us into the private mosaic of your heart. Your broken English tumbled from your lips, gurgled as it ran along the rills, brought new life to scorched fields halving the hurt we'd hawked before you while you alone held together the simple home the monsoon tried to wash away. Not with them, for they have broken your windows, those who also came to England to find a better life; cancelled too your daughter's marriage, arranged all those years ago; not even with your wife, at her respectful distance of ignorance, can you share your greatest hurt not the desert trek from doctor to doctor, your sickly child in your arms, not the vulture thermalling the uncertain cure, but knowing that no one wants to ride her bike, that she's lost her friends like handfuls of pretty hair on the bedroom floor. No, Mr Hussein, we haven't forgotten you; we think we should try to see you again.

Archived comments for A Family Man
Nomenklatura on 25-10-2013
A Family Man
No, constructive comment to make. This is as near perfect as I think it could be.

Regards
Ewan

Author's Reply:
A bright and early comment. Much appreciated, many thanks, Ewan.

Gerald

Nemo on 25-10-2013
A Family Man
Many thanks for the Nib, whoever awarded it. Nemo

Author's Reply:

stormwolf on 25-10-2013
A Family Man
Hi Gerald
I liked this one when you posted it first time round. It has not lost its appeal. Well done on the nib.

Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Alison. I'm having to repost a few older poems while I wait for new ones to arrive. Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 25-10-2013
A Family Man
Yes, well worth the Nib Gerald; excellent. Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. Another old one. Gerald.

Bozzz on 26-10-2013
A Family Man
Missed this one last time. Very good Gerald. The comfort of an English home makes the picture feel a very painful one - what can average people do except offer money that is spent mostly on intermediary bureaucrats?....David

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, David. I'm pleased you liked it. Gerald.

stormwolf on 26-10-2013
A Family Man
I think it's a great idea to re-post poems.
We can change them, enlarge or cut them.
I do it all the time and many times any changes are to the poem's good.

Alison x


Author's Reply:


Showing Me (posted on: 21-10-13)


Wait for it, you'll hear the old boy really yell! My dad hurled a stone over our back-yard wall, chuckling as it hit the shed's corrugated roof and we shared the shiver of rust down old Joe's neck: old Joe from the back, fat on scrap in the war, still fat in leaner times, had an aging lorry that sagged and wobbled down the alley, gouging walls with great elongated grooves. Fifty years on, I'm googling in on the map, seeing an uncompromising patch of green - the alley, the scrap-yard, the old houses, gone: all demolished, like the site of a heinous crime - compelling this need to preserve what I was shown, if only like rust taking on the corrosion of time.

Archived comments for Showing Me
Mikeverdi on 22-10-2013
Showing Me
Oh my... this brought the memories flooding back, kids again if only for a moment. Thanks for writing and posting this one Gerald. Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Mike. I'm pleased my poem did something for you. Gerald.

Bozzz on 23-10-2013
Showing Me
Liked the picture, Gerald. Naughty Dad trains naughty son - good stuff.
Wish I'd had a Dad like that !...

Author's Reply:
Thanks, David. I'm pleased you liked it. Gerald.

bo_duke99 on 23-10-2013
Showing Me
know that feeling of capture it before it's gone, and you've really done that here

Author's Reply:
Thanks, bo_duke99. I'm pleased you liked it. Nemo.

stormwolf on 24-10-2013
Showing Me
Hi Gerald, This had a lovely nostalgic feel to it. I am sure many will think of similar things in different settings when reading.

Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Alison. I'm pleased you liked it. Gerald.


Accident at Frinton-on-Sea (posted on: 18-10-13)


It was a case of just sitting tight and waiting. Eventually the words would come. He was going to be a writer - just like that. He would write a story, perhaps not even a story - just a scene, just an event would do. It could end with an accident, something shocking, he thought. Time wasn't an issue - the task was a stimulating little challenge. He smiled to himself and began to be a writer, there and then, on the beach, with no paper, nothing to write on, but it could be done, or, at least started - in his head. He sensed it wouldn't go away, until it was finished. It would be as unavoidable as the accident he would have to come up with - eventually. Thus he mused, as the waves crept a little closer to where they were sitting, the waves that he would recall later for having washed away the hole he'd dug earlier with his five-year-old grandson, and the castle they'd built together; and the stones he made him carry down the beach for a few minutes' fortification that would be knocked out of place, rearranged as haphazardly as an accident or as the way the waves would crest up and break in unpredictable places, some even going under before their comrades died like D-Day soldiers, gasping for air on the beach, spewing their white spume, like dribble out of an old man's mouth. Not out of his own mouth, he would hasten to add, before his readers thought it was him dribbling there, in front of all those people on the beach, enjoying their day out. No, it would come out of the mouth of the salmon-pink fat man arrayed on a lilo like a floating burial-mound, over there, over by the marker buoy, one arm, his steering arm, limply dangling in the water. He would call himself the author, and write about playing the new game of throwing the stones into the sea for his grandson to retrieve, for the latter kept insisting stones belonged on the sand and not in the sea. At which point, he could include something impressively philosophical about appreciating the potential of a child's memory: we couldn't all be famous, but we could live a little longer in someone's memory. At least, it would be reassuring to think so, he could add. Meanwhile, the waves were getting closer still, and some people were panicking a little, and packing their things, fearing the tide would trap them up against the sea wall. Perhaps this could be the accident that was inevitably going to happen, to save himself any more planning? No, he didn't think so, knowing the beach and how a spring tide as gentle as this would stop short in certain places and leave you alone, to eat your picnic in peace, to contemplate the view. The view - thinking of which, he realised he needed to include a little description. He would have to bring the scene to life, make it imaginable, memorable even. Cinematographic. Whatever that meant. And all the while, time, which initially he had thought wasn't an issue, was ebbing away, as he struggled to take in the scene, to memorise it so he could take it away with him to commit to paper when he got home, not forgetting the nagging question of how to create an accident. Nor must he neglect to mention he had the insatiable demands of his grandson to contend with; he ignored him at his peril. And his wife. Suddenly, the task was becoming insuperably difficult, what with having to think while pouring out drinks, handing out sandwiches, and attending to the dogs; one with no sense of propriety, repeatedly taking her smallness to be the qualification for yapping at all passers by, and necessitating frequent restraint, or chasing after; the other, a perpetual pain, persistently pestering him for food. And all the time, there was the need to be on the watch for people passing along the path behind the sea wall whose offspring would disturb the patches of sand that lay inexplicably on these walls, and delight in flicking them onto their victims down below. He had to anticipate his readers thinking he hadn't really included any description; they would be expecting him to evoke the sunlight playing on the waves, a piercing glint you couldn't stare at for long unless you wore sunglasses. No, on second thoughts, he would omit the waves, with their oh-so-obvious heavy hints of disaster, but the picturesque fishing-boats and the jolly yachts, now, they were surely worth a mention, as they could always be counted on to complete a seaside scene. But he would not have his readers assume this was a typical resort; no, he would describe this one as having no funfair, no ice-cream kiosks, no tea-rooms, none of the paraphernalia you associate with, say, Southend or Clacton. It would simply be a long, clean beach, beautifully braced with barely battered breakwaters, a long sea wall and, behind it, a long border of lovingly tended beach huts - a decent seaside town people dream of retiring to, to end their days there in a luxury flat, staring at the sea, and dying of genteel regret, and exquisitely desperate boredom. A misanthropic, melancholy thought he rather liked; he would definitely slip that one in. But it was nearly time to go home. Time left for thinking was nearly up and the description needed more work, so, after another really last game of throwing stones for his grandson, he hastily looked out to sea and conjured up a few thoughts about what it must be like to be out there: life on the waves, with the wind fluttering in the sails, tangling with your hair - the imagined carefree life of the imagined rich; the fishing craft and their rough-faced crews, but not as weather-beaten as genuine fishermen used to be, or so he surmised. Once that paragraph was complete, he could have the tide going out, and a startling speed-boat suddenly coming into view - its colour of no importance - and the swirling wave it created would tip the sleeping fat man off his drifting lilo into the cruel sea. To drown, perhaps? Something to be decided later. And he could follow it up with something about it being an accident waiting to happen, and then ask, was it inevitable? He would ask his readers if they'd foreseen it, and if so, he might even ask why had they just sat there like the people on the beach, and done nothing to prevent it. Was it post-modern or plain stupid to ask a question like that? He wasn't sure. Better leave it out, then, he thought. Why hadn't he, was not a riposte he'd get, he assumed, laughing at another of his silly jokes, then deciding not to use it.
Archived comments for Accident at Frinton-on-Sea
Kipper on 23-10-2013
Accident at Frinton-on-Sea
So there I was waiting for the story to emerge, to squeeze itself out from between all the wonderful but unconnected descriptive passages. But the story never came. At least that was what I thought until I realised that all the many and varied things that were were going, all together, each blending perfectly with the other, was the story.

I did not escape my notice that your story had not attracted many readers. That is unfortunate, but the loss is theirs.

My only criticism, and not a major one,, is that some of your sentences are very long.

A very good read,

Rated 9

Best regards, Michael

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Michael, for stopping by and reading my story. My only hope is that, if I repost it at a later date, more people might read it. I do despair at the comment, which I have received elsewhere, that some of my sentences are very long. I wonder how readers used to cope with the sentences of Dickens, George Elliot, Hardy, Dostoyevsky, Balzac, Flaubert, Hugo, Proust and many others. I wonder if a title which helps the reader realize that it is a story about a story might help? Thanks again, Gerald

Nomenklatura on 23-10-2013
Accident at Frinton-on-Sea
A fine read. I wouldn't bother changing the title, it's why I read it, in fact. There is nothing wrong with a long sentence, provided it is very clear. The classic authors above (or their translators) managed some sentences which seemed more like the classic Latin period; nevertheless their grasp of the language makes them eminently readable.

What I liked in your piece was that there were long sentences and occasional short ones. Almost fragments, really.

A clever conceit, and as I said, a fine read.
Regards
Ewan

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Ewan, for your appreciative comment. This is a piece I wrote for an English class when I was preparing them for their SATS about six years ago. I had asked them to write about an accident, to vary the length of their sentences, to use connectives and description. It seemed only fair to attempt the piece of work myself. Gerald

Buschell on 01-11-2013
Accident at Frinton-on-Sea
Great stuff. (You may have realised by now that I am a literary pygmy). I like quirk and your story about a story fits the bill and it is glaringly obvious to me already that you are one of the most talented amongst us and one of the most undervalued. Mind your head. Darren

Author's Reply:
Thank ye kindly, mon ami, for your appreciation of my humble effort, written for an English class some years ago. There's only one more bit of prose to post which will baffle everyone, I'm sure. Gerald.

Andrea on 01-11-2013
Accident at Frinton-on-Sea
Love the fact that we have so much more prose on UKA - and this is excellent!

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Andrea. I'm pleased you liked it. And thanks for the nib and the nomination (if they were from you!) Gerald.


Cassie Reads Ode to Cassandra on the Underground (posted on: 18-10-13)
Possible reaction to seeing a translation on the Underground of this famous French poem by Pierre de Ronsard

"Let's go, my dear, and see if the rose " ( "Mignonne, allons voir si la rose." ) The morning train is crowded, and in the poem a young Cassandre is being urged to go with Pierre de Ronsard in the evening to see if a purple rose has lost the petals which were, ah, so fresh like her this morning. And it has! Alas, being as ephemeral as a young girl's beauty, and the scheming Pierre knows it has even before they reach it. Cassandre de Salviati, aged thirteen, and married off the following year, did she ever give twenty-year old Pierre de Ronsard a second thought, ever read this ode dedicated to her, in the first edition of his Amours emblazoned with her engraving and nippled cones for breasts? And today's young Cassie, office-bound, the right boots, the long thighs and the extended nails, does she give this poem a second thought, if discovered like a resplendent rose amongst briars of suspended arms swaying with the train? But perhaps she needs no urging from some guy called Pierre, and what began at a royal ball in 1545 in the Chteau de Blois as a frisson in a young poet's mind, to reverberate for centuries with Renaissance joie-de-vivre, is just some effin' French git goin' on about a bleedin' rose.

Archived comments for Cassie Reads Ode to Cassandra on the Underground
franciman on 19-10-2013
Cassie Reads a Poem on the Underground
Hi Gerald,

I'm sorry to say that I didn't get this one. That doesn't absolve me though and I should have said so up front rather than not comment at all.

I think that for me as reader, I found the line breaks clunky and thought they contributed to the lack of flow and rhythm. I have no problem with the images you paint and I do get the message, but it didn't sing; which for you is unusual.

Again my apologies for not being man enough to comment.
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks for having a go, Jim. It's my fault for assuming people would know the French poem. Cheers, Gerald.

Kipper on 19-10-2013
Cassie Reads a Poem on the Underground
OK, I'll stand up to be counted. Following your plea I read and re-read you poem and I found it hard to grasp, and to understand. I admit that I am not the greatest when it comes to poetry, and often find the subleties beyond me. And so it proved with this one. The meaning, which I have no doubt is there, failed to reveal itself to me. Perhaps, had I managed to fathom the hidden message, the last verse which came as a shock, might have made some sense.
Best regards just the same, Michael

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Michael. It's a skit at Ronsard's 'famous' poem to Cassandre and a dig at what would be, I suspect, many people's reaction to it, if it was actually posted on the London Underground. Regards, Gerald.


The Sunshine Room (posted on: 14-10-13)
Two Days at Barts

Day 1 ''Morning! I'm the registrar.'' (. this is worse than the butchery at Smithfield! Coming to Cobalt Two will cut up your soul.) ''If you'd just bring your daughter this way, please. All we do today, dear, is measure you up: angular blue lines here, here, on your temples, to position the blocks of lead which will protect your eyes.'' (. and turn heads in the street!) ''Children do love going to the Sunshine Room.'' (. old enough to understand she must lie still, but not young enough not to know what she's got .) ''Do give her time to look around afterwards.'' (Appreciate our concern, huddled over microscopes, earnest laboratories sorting cells, curing that today, and perhaps this tomorrow .) ''Bye, now, see you again, tomorrow, dear, and don't wash that warpaint off for three weeks! Day 2 She's got blue lines on her bare scalp especially for today. The new girl. There are older ones - you can tell they've been here before: believers in the just-audible hello - the life-enhancing chemistry of nicely forced smiles; house-proud mind-tidiers, trying to hack the ivy out. At least the older ones are well behaved, setting a good example, which looks like courage to the new girl whose name has just been called. Suddenly, her life's like a nasty end to a children's story, turning on her, snarling, reaching for her throat, as she enters the lift down to the Sunshine Room. And afterwards, off to St. Katharine Docks to see the yachts. Come on, now, your headscarf's very pretty. Yes, we'll be getting your uniform tomorrow. Of course, you'll be going to your new school next week.

Archived comments for The Sunshine Room
deadpoet on 14-10-2013
The Sunshine Room
Suddenly, her life’s like a nasty end to a children’s story,

I think this line sums up the whole poem. Very well written.

Pia
x

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Pia. Gerald

Bozzz on 14-10-2013
The Sunshine Room
Heart bleeds - poor girl, poor parents. Hope all goes as well as possible. ...Bozzz

Author's Reply:
Thanks, David. It was 31 years ago. Gerald

franciman on 14-10-2013
The Sunshine Room
Gerald, this sounds too personal for me to make comment on the strength of the work. So I will just wish you all well.
Jim

Author's Reply:
Hi Jim. I would welcome a comment on the effectiveness or otherwise of this poem. I am well removed from the event which took place 31 years ago. The poem was written around 1986. Fortunately things which were horrendous at the time turned out well. Gerald

franciman on 14-10-2013
The Sunshine Room
Hi Gerald,
Your poem cries out in soft, crafted whispers. I greatly admire the way you contrast the good intentions with the blistering, terrifying effects. The foreshadowing at the very end is masterful. It would be so easy to get this one wrong; a more maudlin approach, an uplifting finish. But you nailed it. It is wonderful and terrible and nominated for the anthology.
Thank you,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Oh! Wow! Many thanks, Jim. I appreciate your considered comment and thank you for the nomination. Best wishes, Gerald.


The Cruise of Your Life (posted on: 11-10-13)


There are some who spend their time obsessing about lifeboats. You see them pacing the deck, counting the lifeboats, checking the ropes, sitting near the door in the lounge, guarding their chosen boat. They'll have a quiet word with the captain, surely something can be arranged. The captain's not a man of many words, in fact, he never speaks, what's worse, he's nowhere to be seen. Someone else will have to do, put in a good word, know what I mean, you know the sort of thing. Trouble is, they're not reliable, not like the old man himself. So they'll just have to hope for the best, that it'll turn out all right, if the ship goes down. Not a problem, is it, for people who don't spend the trip obsessing about lifeboats?

Archived comments for The Cruise of Your Life
deadpoet on 11-10-2013
Fellow Travellers
I think this is such a good expression and very profound. I wish I had thought of this.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, dp. Gerald

Mikeverdi on 12-10-2013
The Cruise of Your Life
Well done Gerald, love the way you thought this out. Life is a funny old thing 🙂 anyone seen the lifeguard?
Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. glad you liked this piece of metaphysics. Gerald.

Weefatfella on 13-10-2013
The Cruise of Your Life
 photo 89f4a5d0-5f15-4509-881e-443a08debcc5_zps272a8411.jpg He who hesitates is lost. "The fear of death is the most unjustified of all fears,for there's no risk of accident for someone who's dead. A Einstein."
Weefatfella.

Author's Reply:
Well, he would know that, wouldn't he? Thanks, Weefatfella. Gerald


Everyone Remembers a Good Teacher (posted on: 07-10-13)


One of the Forgotten Army. Classics was hard, coming back. Stood the seniors at the rear, his beady eyes smoothed the rows, Elvis after Elvis. March fifty-six. Cross-legged first-years on the yard, you and I, not yet friends, holding it there, on command. The way he got silence, the stillness when he sat down, third from the Head, the broken window side, and the camera raked us like a gun. Dic, duc, fer, fac, second person singular active, irregular imperatives. 'Dick's duck had fur on its fack', he'd snap. Lest we forget. Regula, regulae, feminine, the ruler, of the ruler the edge, sharp, two crisp applications to taut cheeks for each mistake. Enjoyed that? Yes sir. Semper et in aeternum. The Pax Romana that got results. Watch out, Joe's coming, a boy would hiss, like his jailed Japs, smarting after the bomb. Yes, Joe's coming, he'd roar, exploding the room, sending shock waves of loud conjugations - amo, amas, amat from his empire to the far ends of the school. Dinner-hours, we helped him get his Greek back, you and I: Odyssean trips on mugs of tea. Breathed the smoke in his lungs, the closest we ever got. Read 'Goodbye to All That', he said, and gave us his vademecum.

Archived comments for Everyone Remembers a Good Teacher
Buschell on 01-11-2013
Everyone Remembers a Good Teacher
Funny how really good writing gets no hits sometimes...a UKA annomaly...really good poem (that coming from a shit poet!). Now read something of mine! Only joshin'....this ain't no vanity press...your old friend Buschell.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for noticing this, Buschell, so early in the morning! It was actually published in Envoi poetry magazine over 20 years ago. Yes, funny how some poems get ignored, sometimes no comments. You have to be popular, I've decided. Gerald.

Nomenklatura on 01-11-2013
Everyone Remembers a Good Teacher
I don't think it's quite as simple as that Nemo.

For myself I liked this very much. It conjures a world long gone. It puts me very much in mind of my own education 20 years later in what was probably the last grammar school in Northumberland.

It must have been really difficult from those returning from the Far East to adjust again to 'normal' life.

I do know that a lot of people feel intimidated by certain kinds of writing.

It doesn't surprise me at all that this was published in 'Envoi', thanks for giving me the opportunity to read it.

Regards
Ewan

Author's Reply:


Usherette (posted on: 04-10-13)


Hair tight in a bun, feet in the first position, she directs us to our seats, pointing with the wing of a swan, fingers trailing like feathers. Margot at the movies, perfecting her posture after closing the doors. She'd love to see the film, she's heard so much about it, a demure smile as we leave, her slender neck inclining as she dies, between ballets, making ends meet.

Archived comments for Usherette
deadpoet on 04-10-2013
Usherette
Oh Lovely- was the film 'Black Swan'- haven't seen it but remember the iconic Margot Fonteyn- brilliant little snapshot. Elegant like a ballet.

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, dp. Glad you liked it. The film was Blue Jasmine at the Barbican, no connection with the poem. The dying comes from Swan Lake.

Andrea on 04-10-2013
Usherette
Lovely! I did see The Black Swan and thought it was brilliant. Your pome's pretty good too 🙂

Author's Reply:
I'm pleased you liked it, thanks, Andrea. Nemo.

Ionicus on 05-10-2013
Usherette
What are you doing at the moment? I am between ballets.
I suppose that ballet dancers are just as likely to be unemployed as actors are. I like the juxtaposition of the two occupations. Nice and rhythmic.

Author's Reply:
Many thanks for stopping by and commenting, Ionicus. Thanks for the rate, too. I'm between poems at the moment.

Bozzz on 05-10-2013
Usherette
Went to Covent Garden, On the program found a dancer having my own name. Showed it to my workmates next day and claimed it was my evening job. The rumour spread and by tea time I was summoned to the bosses' office and accused of breach of contract ! Big laugh all round. Never risked going to ballet again!.. Delicate poem - enjoyed .....Bozzz

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Bozzz. I'm pleased you liked it. Thanks for the rate, too. Gerald

Bozzz on 05-10-2013
Usherette
Went to Covent Garden, On the program found a dancer having my own name. Showed it to my workmates next day and claimed it was my evening job. The rumour spread and by tea time I was summoned to the bosses' office and accused of breach of contract ! Big laugh all round. Never risked going to ballet again!.. Delicate poem - enjoyed .....Bozzz

Author's Reply:
You've sent the same message twice, you liked my poem so much! Thanks again, David.

Pelequin23 on 06-10-2013
Usherette
liked this on fp but still like it on here too

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Pelequin. Glad you liked it. nemo

Mikeverdi on 08-10-2013
Usherette
Terrific writing Gerald, loved it! Mike

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Mike. Short and simple! Gerald.


Evenings (posted on: 27-09-13)


When we have done what we can, we shall want to pipe our eyes and knit it all together with the best of words, knit the wounds in sombre rooms, and watch the evenings closing in. And ready, I, to die with you, I shall want to stand at a window before the watering of the plants; I shall want to watch the mouths that go by; I shall want to predict them all: the opening and closing of lips, the words that never make the leap. Even now the shadow makes me wonder: what good to have known them all? what good to have been a face? what good to have been a memory, a commemorated name in voices that fall into deep pits where the sun's far end grows cold? And ready, I, to die without you, I shall want to stand at a window before the drawing of the bolts. and in the musty peace of darkening days, I shall remember very little of it all, except that I gave up asking what for, and never threw a stone at heaven. And as I stand at a window, then, sipping from a shaking cup, I shall have to watch them bustle by, and I shall want to feel young again, right down to my shuffling feet.

Archived comments for Evenings
Bozzz on 27-09-2013
Evenings
The right note with the right words - good piece Jim.....Bozzz

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Jim. A very old poem - 45 years old. I'm pleased you liked it, Gerald

deadpoet on 28-09-2013
Evenings
I really like this poem-

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, deadpoet. Gerald

amman on 29-09-2013
Evenings
I like it too. The cadence reminded me a bit of Robert Frost.

The only line that seemed a little awkward was ' I shall want to watch the mouths that go by'. Just seems like a strange expression. Good poem tho'.

Cheers.

Tony.

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Tony. 40 plus years ago when I wrote this poem, I thought that, in the loneliness of old age, I would 'want to watch the mouths that go by' in the hope that there would be some acknowledgement of my existence. Regards, Gerald


'L'Avare' for A'Level (posted on: 20-09-13)


Defining comedy extends into break . In the playground the fat one they call Elmer is wriggling against the wall again, inviting, enjoying jibes, punches, spit . Funny, of course it's funny - Molire 'castigat ridendo mores' - students quote the introduction for proof. Harpagon, such meanness, such cruelty to his children, servants, horses, deserves to lose his 'chre cassette' of cash, and crack up, as if widowed again, to hang the world, and then himself. His howls of anguish turn up the laughter, uncomfortably, despite ourselves. Molire is 'malgr lui' castigating less the 'mores', more the man, the more he's hooked on money, his love, his fix, the more the misfit, the more he's writhing against the public wall of his private hell, the louder the hoots of derision, to send them away laughing, because comedy has a happy ending, students say, glad of a break.

Archived comments for 'L'Avare' for A'Level
Bozzz on 20-09-2013
LAvare for ALevel
Clever, thoughtful - a good clean prose piece with sharp lines and clarity. Very good work Gerald...David

Author's Reply:
Thank you, David, for your appreciation. Gerald


Centro Storico (posted on: 16-09-13)


In narrow, labyrinthine medieval back-ways, old women sit and wait at open doors. 'Perso?' one asks, seeing I look lost. The sun has almost dried the step she has just washed. Crow-like in black, she directs me in dialect, and empties her bucket in the central gulley, once an open sewer, then sits at her door to wait. There is nothing else to do. Past complaining about the past, the old men in the piazza stand in their places and wait. There is nothing else to do. Past worrying about the future, the ragazzi loiter in the wings, and wait for their cue. There is nothing else to do.

Archived comments for Centro Storico
deadpoet on 16-09-2013
Centro Storico
Very effective repetition and a beautiful poem. I understand the nib- Great read..

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, dp. Glad you liked it, Gerald.

Nemo on 17-09-2013
Centro Storico
Thank you to the mystery people for the Nib and the nomination!

Author's Reply:

stormwolf on 19-09-2013
Centro Storico
Hi Gerald
A very atmospheric poem. I could see it all so clearly. The feeling came over and the repetition enhanced that. Congrats on the nomination and the nib.
Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Alison. I'm pleased you liked it, Gerald.


The Grove (posted on: 13-09-13)


The grove was the best location the gang had for reshooting sixpenny matines - holidayfuls of Tommy's Revenge and Escape from Stalag Luft III. It was a take-it or take-it friendship that meant it was your duty to escape, punishment to be enjoyed by you, in turn, always your turn, in a smelly, muddy hole. Nonchalant extras strolled across the set, walking dogs, seeing no evil; guards loaded caps, planning revenge. You enthusiastically collected branches and bricks to weigh down the roof, pulled it over you, sat tight and waited.

Archived comments for The Grove
roger303 on 13-09-2013
The Grove
Brings back happy childhood memories.
Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
Holidayfuls?
"Loaded caps and planned their revenge" - like it.


Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, roger303. Nemo. 'Holidayfuls', new word.

Nemo on 13-09-2013
The Grove
Thank you to whoever awarded me or obtained for me the Nib!

Author's Reply:

franciman on 13-09-2013
The Grove
Hi Gerald,
This is so good. The pace and the language give the piece that breathless excitement we all felt in those days.
Beautifully observed.
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Jim. Glad you liked it. Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 14-09-2013
The Grove
Yes it's all there Gerald, a time before the computer took over; I remember it well. Thanks for posting this wonderful piece. Congrats on the well deserved Nib. Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike, for enjoying my celebration of the old days. What some children were like, eh? Gerald

Pronto on 15-09-2013
The Grove
Oh you had me back building dens in my mind! great write mate. Loved 'holidayfuls' as I like to invent new words too. 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Pronto. I'm pleased it had you building dens. Gerald.


Translation of 'Pome Sans Paroles' (posted on: 09-09-13)


.
Archived comments for Translation of 'Pome Sans Paroles'
deadpoet on 10-09-2013
Translation of Poème Sans Paroles
This is empty? Is that the idea? Sorry if I don't get it- seems a bit fruitless having an empty page.. what does the french mean- not my strong side????

Author's Reply:
Poem Without Words. It's empty because there's no punctuation. Perhaps you know John Cage wrote a silent piece of music called 4'33'' and Mendelssohn wrote Chanson Sans Paroles? (Song Without Words) Never too late to learn a new language. Thanks for your interest. G

Andrea on 10-09-2013
Translation of Poème Sans Paroles
Haha, I get it 🙂

It means 'Poem without Words' DP.

Nice one, nemo, deserves a nib 🙂

Author's Reply:
Pleased you got it, Andrea. Gerald


The Bubble (posted on: 09-09-13)


Of every dream that could haunt me, this one insinuates irresistibly, like a bubble that might waft across our summer garden and, disconcerting chattering cat or frantic dog, skim the children's straining fingertips, swirl past your sleeping face, and beam its supernoval menace on me, on me . This shimmering, hollow dream drifts into a fitful sleep, eclipsing companion considerations, to hold my gaze with its power to chill a smile or cloud an eye; for a brief eternity, it fixes its stippled stare on me, on me . then, as I switch on the lamp to face it down, it is gone!

Archived comments for The Bubble
deadpoet on 09-09-2013
The Bubble
I wonder if it is something from the past? Sounds unpleasant. I really liked the words you have chosen to describe this elusive 'Bubble' and its effect.

Author's Reply:
Just a metaphysical thing. Thanks, dp

Bozzz on 09-09-2013
The Bubble
In my experience, bubbles are best left un-pricked. What evil gas lurks within and of what mysterious material is the envelope conjured? I like this little tantalus and its journey of temptation. Pop....David

Author's Reply:
More of a metaphysical nightmare was in my mind. Thanks, David.

stormwolf on 10-09-2013
The Bubble
Hi Gerald
This is your best so far to my mind. Every stanza is riveting and the feeling that comes over is one of torment and it also has a feeling of being let in on a dark secret for want of a better way to describe it.
A confession of what is endured.

The title is intriguing as one normally thinks of bubbles as delightfully light and airy ,non threatening but of course the other connotation is to be stuck in one....alienated to a certain degree from surroundings.

skim the children’s straining fingertips,
swirl past your sleeping face,
and beam its supernoval menace
on me, on me ….

Oh! the horror implied and the repetition excellent.

This shimmering, hollow dream
drifts into a fitful sleep,
eclipsing companion considerations,
to hold my gaze with its power
to chill a smile
or cloud an eye;

You have excelled yourself here.

I am delighted to nominate it.

Alison x

Into favs 😉

Author's Reply:
Wow! I'm enjoying your reaction to my poem - the old ones are always the best - this is about 30 years old.
Many thanks for the nomination and the rate. Best wishes, Gerald.

barenib on 10-09-2013
The Bubble
Very interesting poem, full of intrigue and as you say, something playing in the mind - John.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting. Pleased you like it, John. Regards, Gerald

Mikeverdi on 10-09-2013
The Bubble
Congratulations on the Nib&Nom. Gerald, both well deserved. Great writing. Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. An old one. Glad you liked it, Gerald.


What Remains (posted on: 06-09-13)


Is this all that's left? asks my son, just dropping in. The inlaid wooden chest my father made with love when they were first married served in four houses before I brought it down South like a coffin to rest here. For years his tools stalled like new in their boxes, until one day I found him planing a piece of wood, and I gathered up the curly shavings and held them to my nose in the shed the new people have taken away, but not the smell he said was cherry or the scar on my palm, when he let me use the chisel. I open the chest, in which she stored the linen and towels she ironed with love, and I catch a faint trace of naphthalene, enough for a flickering memory rush. Is this all that's left? Yes, everything else went into care, except for her two girls on a beach from their last front room, gathering dust in the garage, and his watch, which is broken. Oh, and there's their carriage clock he fiddled with, and got on her nerves, also beyond repair.

Archived comments for What Remains
Mikeverdi on 06-09-2013
What Remains
I like the story here Gerald, but I feel it needs a prune, just me maybe; but a few surplus words less and it would be perfect IMO. Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. It's a new poem after six months' lay-off. I'll return to it when it's no longer 'mine' then I''ll do some more work on it. Perhaps. Cheers, Gerald. Adding a note to this reply, Mike. I've just made some cuts. G

Bozzz on 07-09-2013
What Remains
I like this piece - but dom agre wth Mike. The love of smell of worked wood is seated deep in man's history. The axe, the chisel, the plane, the saw, but her mothballs kill all - a shame. Well penned Gerald.....David

Author's Reply:
Thanks, David. I'm pleased you liked it. Gerald

Mikeverdi on 08-09-2013
What Remains
Definitely better for me Gerald, what I have learnt from my betters on this site is that the saying 'less is more' is usually right. Remove the but's, the and's and other linking words etc.... thing's always look better. Of this crime I have been the main offender! LOL
Your friend
Mike

Author's Reply:


Sea View Luxury Apartments (posted on: 02-09-13)


We have so much to be so grateful for: another day is passing, after another day of sitting looking out through the window, and it is all paid for, and all is included. There are always sailing boats adorning the view, staked to the distance like fluttering white tents. (The paper's fallen onto the floor, pick it up later; didn't bother with lunch, not hungry.) I can see a little blond boy on the beach, giggling and throwing pebbles back into the sea - for his grandfather to pretend they're a pain to retrieve. And there's a man lazing on a lilo, just drifting off. But today's tide is so weary, the waves are tottering; some don't make it and drown like D-Day soldiers. Others gasp, frothing as they crumple on the sand. Strange, they were doing it yesterday, as well. The sailing boats seem to have moved a little, and yet they never appear to move an inch or perhaps they're not the same ones after all. The people on the beach are up and leaving again. Now the setting sun's playing on our windows, beaming our sad reflections into oblivion, and we've gratefully done another day's dying of exquisite boredom and genteel regret.

Archived comments for Sea View Luxury Apartments
deadpoet on 02-09-2013
Sea View
I think this sounds like a good view. I think your description paints a good picture. Sounds a bit like me looking out my window at trees and people passing by. Time flies this way!

Author's Reply:
Thanks, dp. This not where I live but just imagining life in some luxury retirement apartments on the Essex coast. Gerald

Mikeverdi on 02-09-2013
Sea View Apartments
The sense of anguish is here in this poem, or is it just me? I felt pain and frustration. It really is good Gerald, it touched me inside, filled me with melancholy. Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. I'm pleased it touched you. The anguish, pain, frustration and melancholy are vicarious, not mine, not yet, but perhaps they're on their way, who knows? Thanks for the rate. Gerald

franciman on 03-09-2013
Sea View Executive Apartments
Hi Gerald,
It's a fair prospect, and yet you hint at bleaker prospects coming to us all. As our family take control of our destinies, there is the danger they see only this fair prospect. At least I think that's what you're saying here? Well penned.
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Jim. The poem came after a day spent on the beach at Frinton-on-Sea with my grandson. I imagined the lives of people in the flats looking over the sea. Their apparent comfortable lives needed, I think, undermining by a downsizing sense of doom that worked its way into the poem. I'm sure what you've picked up from it is right. Many thanks for reading and commenting, and for the rate. Cheers, Gerald

Bozzz on 03-09-2013
Sea View
Gerald, I too felt good about this, but somehow the lack of rhythm muted its impact. For me, the quality of the observations deserves a slightly more structured approach. ....David

Author's Reply:
Thanks, David. I can't agree about 'rhythm.' This is free verse and the words are being spoken, in the character's mind, if not aloud. Normal, rather than artificial, speech rhythms apply here, surely? Gerald.

Pronto on 05-09-2013
Sea View
A well told tale with more than a hint of despair in its lines but still a great deal to be admired here. Good write poet.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading. Pronto. Your comment is much appreciated. Gerald

orangedream on 05-09-2013
Sea View
This one left me, too, with more than a touch of melancholy. Nicely penned.

Tina;-)

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Tina, I'm pleased you liked it. Gerald


Dubbing (posted on: 26-08-13)


And later on, returning home after another of our walks, re-defining myself with a turn of a key - someone who's forever framed in a doorway, forever re-locating himself behind a door - what if, removing the dog's lead, I hear someone playing a piano, am I somewhere someone else, patron or king in salon or court, or just myself, slipping out of time? I listen: the dead pianist, back turned, is pouring out, drawing out, the way they do in middle movements, modulating so many forms of pain. The andante ends with a click, silent as a scythe. I turn cassettes and continue copying, tape A onto tape B, allegro ma non troppo. I see one of me settling into a chair, improvising, copy upon copy.

Archived comments for Dubbing
barenib on 26-08-2013
Dubbing
Very interesting piece, familiar sentiments but done in a novel style which I enjoyed. John

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, John. Gerald.

franciman on 26-08-2013
Dubbing
Hi Gerald,
This poem turns different tricks each time I read it. I'm not even sure which reader I am?
And that is maybe its secret. Well done.
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Jim. I'm pleased it worked for you or for whoever you were when you read it. Gerald.

Nemo on 27-08-2013
Dubbing
Wow! Thank you to the mystery reader who awarded/got me the Nib!

Author's Reply:

Ionicus on 27-08-2013
Dubbing
An intriguing and interesting poem, Gerald. Well done on the nib.
Cheers.

PS. You don't need the accent on 'ma' in the line 'allegro ma non troppo.'


Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Ionicus. I'm pleased you liked it. Accent now removed! What could have made me think there was one? Gerald.


Re: Your Trip to Normandy (posted on: 19-08-13)


Bayeux's a bit heavy; suggest you leave it for the last day of your stay. Suggest allow whole morning for queuing toilets essential on arrival and getting in and out of the Tapestry Museum; hire headphones for grope-control. Follow with organised sunbathing in the cathedral grounds plenty of bins for discarded packed lunches with junior member of staff, the vegetarian, while rest of you have your last meal without the kids. Conclude afternoon with a short drive to the Muse Mmorial toilets inside the front door tickets needed for half-group only; first pupils through will do the lot in two minutes and pass their tickets on. So, a few minutes in all plus a pee, leaves ample time for the group photo: taking out the Panzer tendency at this point for worksheets to fly away then cross the road to the War Cemetery the duty-free can wait review the parade of eloquent standing stones even cynics like me, herding children back to the coach, grant futility some purpose if, translating on the memorial arch, ''Nos a Gulielmo victi victoris patriam liberavimus'', we aren't patching together and embroidering. (Nos a Gulielmo victi victoris patriam liberavimus = We who were conquered by William have liberated his country)

Archived comments for Re: Your Trip to Normandy
Savvi on 21-08-2013
Bayeux Tapestry
Sounds like a fun trip, very quirky in presentation, I really like it. S

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Savvi. And thanks for the rate. Quirky presentation because the lines are notes of advice to the trip organiser. I've changed the title - it might help.

Corin on 22-08-2013
Re. Your Trip to Normandy
It took me several reads to catch this and then I had to Google the inscription. Then the full poignancy of it really hit me. For Latin non-cognescenti like me perhaps you need to work in the translation somehow or just add a footnote?

Anyway I hope to hear you read your poems at the UKALive Event in London on Saturday September 20th. For full details see:-

https://ukauthors.com/phorum5/read.php?1,219923

NOTE: If you have books to sell bring a few along.

Of course, if you just want to listen to some of the excellent work being posted on UKAuthors you will be very welcome, the more the merrier, and some us may be very merry:-)



I would love to see the Bayeux tapestry but your testimonial about the queues have put me off:-) I remember the school trip supervisory experience very well. Worst experience was a scaffolder in York dropping a large scaffold joint and just missing the head of one of my pupils. Funniest was losing a whole class of 11year olds on a steam train from York to Shildon when it steamed out of the station to the turntable siding with all the staff and half the pupils in the Station Museum or toilet! The 11 year olds apparently had an orgy while they were alone in the siding!

Dave

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Dave. I'm pleased to liked it. I'll put a translation of the Latin inscription at the foot of the poem. Might be able to go the Live Event. Gerald.

Nemo on 22-08-2013
Re. Your Trip to Normandy
Thank you to whoever awarded me the Nib!

Author's Reply:


Not for Discussion (posted on: 12-08-13)


When she fell ill, I told him the same day. It's terrible, it's terrible these words were all he said or could find to say, man to man, over the fence, and two yards' gap landed me another planet away. We play the pat posturings of pretence: Christmas card for card, my proffered spanner at his garage door, his squeezed-out comments on the weather the lips are kept thinner, and it's a brick wall now, not a flimsy fence. A man tanked in double glass, chubbed indoors, cavity-valiumed with TV, he's wired for all-round bliss; hermetic dcors admit no fear, keep out What's-his-name who's a real-life reminder of what he ignores. Clearly behind smiles, I'm supposed to hide! Mankind I thought we travelled together: cruising round the sun, a shared cabin-ride? No, a man may ground himself whenever the sensors detect the Invader outside.

Archived comments for Not for Discussion
franciman on 12-08-2013
Not for Discussion
Hi Gerald,
Too many wonderful lines, so don't know where to start. Imagery is trenchant and yet presented in an almost wistful way. The subject would seem to preclude lyricism and yet this really sings.

'A man tanked in double glass, chubbed indoors,
cavity-valiumed with TV, he’s
wired for all-round bliss; hermetic décors
admit no fear, keep out What’s-his-name'

you will detect my admiration for the piece?
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Well, thank you very much, Jim, for your appreciation and the rate, etc. This is a poem from some twenty-five years ago, a one-off in some ways, the like of which I've not been able to produce since. So pleased you liked it! Gerald.

stormwolf on 12-08-2013
Not for Discussion
Hi Gerald
A very good poem well worth the nib and the nom.
The title is perfect and the poem descriptive, rich and insightful.

Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thank you very much. Alison. I'm pleased you liked it. Thanks for your comment and the rate. Gerald.

Mikeverdi on 12-08-2013
Not for Discussion
You at your best Gerald, one to read and read again; well worth the praise and plaudits. Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. As I said to Jim, one from my writing days, 25 years ago. Oh to be able to get back into that groove. Gerald

BoyGaskell on 12-08-2013
Not for Discussion
really enjoyed this piece! loved the imagery, the flow worked really with the structuring of the poem! "Mankind – I thought we travelled together:"

Author's Reply:
Hi, thanks, Boy Gaskell.

EmotiveSoul on 12-08-2013
Not for Discussion
Sounds like my old neighbour, he was hard work. Excellent piece. Daz

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, EmotiveSoul. Pleased you liked it. Nemo

ValDohren on 13-08-2013
Not for Discussion
Brilliant nemo, so very true to life.
Val

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, Val. Nemo

deadpoet on 13-08-2013
Not for Discussion
I think this is a symptomatic poem. But the blatant truth is so well told here. Loved this line especially

Mankind – I thought we travelled together:

Author's Reply:
Thanks, deadpoet. Glad it did something for you. Nemo

Savvi on 14-08-2013
Not for Discussion
Brilliant Nemo the wistful feel you create gives a sense of being lost in life and lets us feel the awkwardness that creeps in when times get tough, as I said brilliant. Keith

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Keith, for your comment, and the rate. I'm pleased you enjoyed it,, Gerald.

orangedream on 14-08-2013
Not for Discussion
Great writing...deserving of all its accolades.

Tina

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Tina. Nemo

Pronto on 15-08-2013
Not for Discussion
So much said and left unsaid here as we spin around the sun cocooned in social mores that keep us isolated from our fellows. A very well earned nib indeed.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, Pronto. I'm pleased you liked it. Gerald.

teifii on 17-08-2013
Not for Discussion
Well worth waiting 25 years for. You should tap into that vein again. Congratulations on well deserved nomination.

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, teifii. Unfortunately the pit has been closed down and I can't mine that vein anymore.


Calling in the Cat... (posted on: 09-08-13)
An attempt to rhyme for someone who called free verse her Bte Noire

That's my old Bte Noire sulking on the wall, scornfully resisting my every call. I've tried her with couplets, to no effect; another type of rhyme I must select. She's turned up her nose at my choice free verse, she considers it tasteless and perverse. I'll see if another rhyme scheme will work. Oh, she has her claws out ready to strike; antique inverted verse this cat doth irk, and she'll refuse a line that ends with like. ( Into a sonnet's where this is heading! ) Perhaps it's on half-rhymes she needs feeding, so, I will tempt her in with one more line: come in, silly Bte Noire, don't be a pain.

Archived comments for Calling in the Cat...
stormwolf on 10-08-2013
Calling in the Cat
Had to look up Bête Noire 😉
Not sure if its meant to be funny or having a slight dig at someone 😉
Anyway, interesting poem with some good lines. At the risk of annoying you further the rhythm could do with some sharpening lol
Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Alison. Yes, ii's just a playful dig at someone who believes a poem's only a poem if it rhymes. This is an example of rhyme sometimes drives the poem, and, yes, rhythm and to some extent, sense, suffer in the process. Gerald

chant_z on 10-08-2013
Calling in the Cat
It's interesting finding Bête noire something tempting but it does make sense. Very eloquent write. I think my favourite part would be:

"Oh, she has her claws out ready to strike;
Antique inverted verse this cat doth irk,
And she’ll refuse a line that ends with like."

Much enjoyable. Thank you!

Author's Reply:
I'm very pleased this little piece has found favour. Thanks very much for reading and commenting, chant_z. Gerald.

ValDohren on 10-08-2013
Calling in the Cat
A fun read - as one who has always written in rhyme but has of late been having a dabble at free verse, this has tickled me, so to speak. There's room for both in the poetry world, the proviso for both being that it should be good writing. As long as it meets that criteria, it matters not which style is used. Enjoyed reading.
Val

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Val. Fun, yes, it was only ever meant to be fun, and the first line came to me after re-reading Browning's 'My Last Duchess.' Gerald

Bozzz on 11-08-2013
Calling in the Cat
There are degrees of difficulty in every style of writing. Rhyming couplets do sound better if they have the same number of beats in the lines. In that sense this amusing poem could be greatly improved - but maybe this lack was part of the private joke ?...David

Author's Reply:
Thank you for your observation, David. The point of the poem was to show how irritating rhyme can be. Rather than cripple the meaning by attempting to inject the same metrical in each line, I preferred to capture, instead, the rhythms of normal speech. However, I think it is possible to read each of the lines in the rhyming couplet section with five stressed syllables in each, no? .... Gerald.


Human Rights March (posted on: 05-08-13)


We moved as one for the right to negotiate how to be alone together, while firemen at the tube-station moved as one to piece together one who negotiated being alone alone, being which seems is nobody's right, not even our own.

Archived comments for Human Rights March
deadpoet on 05-08-2013
Human Rights March
Oh what a brilliant observation and a profound text. Nice with the consciousness- highly commendable involvement. Hats off to you and to this poem.

Author's Reply:
I'm very pleased you liked it. A poem I wrote about 20 years ago, after taking part in a protest march. I think, we were demanding the right to negotiate, and I somehow or other turned it into something 'metaphysical.' Thanks for your comment and the rate. Gerald

franciman on 05-08-2013
Human Rights March
This takes a bit of effort. Well worth it though, once the penny drops! Is the three line layout deliberate? i.e. standing alone, alone. If so it is a brilliant concept.
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Jim. Glad you liked. I think I knocked it into a three-line layout because it though it presented the progression or march of ideas more distinctly. Thanks for your appreciation and the rate. Gerald.

mageorge on 05-08-2013
Human Rights March
How a few words can say so much!

Once you get your head around it, this short piece says everything.

Great read...

Regards,

Mark

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, Mark, and thanks for the rate. Gerald

Mikeverdi on 06-08-2013
Human Rights March
Yes , it's a great concept poem, I also agree it takes a bit of working out; in this case it's worth the effort. Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. I'm pleased it worked for you. Thanks for the rate. Gerald

ValDohren on 08-08-2013
Human Rights March
Didn't quite get it nemo, but I'm not very good with cryptic stuff, however somehow I liked it, liked the flow, and it does seem to move as one.
Val

Author's Reply:
Sorry you didn't quite get this wee little piece, Val. I could send a short explanation, if you wish. Gerald.

ValDohren on 08-08-2013
Human Rights March
A little explanation would be appreciated Gerald.
Val

Author's Reply:
OK, I'll try!

stormwolf on 10-08-2013
Human Rights March
A very clever poem with a deep message. Well laid out it gave the poem ooomph!

Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, Alison. Ooomph - ah - if only we could always to produce a bit of ooomph! Gerald.

Buschell on 24-10-2013
Human Rights March
Terrorism?...the ultimate alone alone...? Very good, I like succinct myself. Buschell.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for finding this, Buschell- posted some time ago. Glad it did something for you, regards, nemo.


Locale (posted on: 26-07-13)


Staying where you are assumes the place always returns to the same spot, and it does, but you don't.

Archived comments for Locale
Andrea on 26-07-2013
Locale
Neat 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Andrea.


Citizen (posted on: 22-07-13)


Works hard at his job, a bricks and mortar man, modernised throughout. Decent car, like new, looked out by a mate in sales, extras and no questions. Home for lunch these days, make sure the wife's not getting too lonely, lads. Mrs Catalogue modelling replacement door, shares and tan, latest order in her arms. Wave its hand to Daddy. Back to work soon, see about babyminder, and the op. Mother come to do her share, couldn't manage without, still getting started. Days off in lieu, blind eye, or sick, golf, municipal till he gets better. Car round to the front, shampoodled and gel-set for the rite of the clubs. A toot for the wife and kiddie, nought to sixty, stereo-assisted. Weekends, cool hand with the trolley, up the ladder, and showing round. Salt of the earth, doing it himself. British Standard Kite-Mark. Biodegradable.

Archived comments for Citizen
Nomenklatura on 22-07-2013
Citizen
Dab hand with the terse,
reads like a dagger to the heart.

Very good.

Author's Reply:
Glad you liked it, Nomenklatura. Thanks for commenting.

Nemo on 23-07-2013
Citizen
Wow! Thank you to whoever awarded me or got me awarded the Nib!

Author's Reply:

Mikeverdi on 23-07-2013
Citizen
Hello my friend, agree with the previous comment; well done with this one and well done with the Nib! Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike. Glad you liked it. Another 'old one.'

Savvi on 23-07-2013
Citizen
Great title set up the poem really nicley and the delivery is cutting. Congrats on the nib well deserved. S

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Savvi. Better not let my neighbour across the road see it.

Weefatfella on 23-07-2013
Citizen
 photo 915e0b75-fce7-4fc2-9921-556099197c13_zps1f6b3c50.jpg
Aye, Excellently done.
The terse verse reads like a car salesman talks.
I enjoyed the rhythm and feel of it.
Congrats on the Nib too, well deserved, and well done. Weefatfella.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Weefatfella. Glad you liked it. Someone we all recognise.

stormwolf on 24-07-2013
Citizen
Well done Nemo.

The last two lines sealed it with aplomb. congrats on the nib

Alison x

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Alison. I'm pleased you liked it. Gerald


Improper Sonnet (posted on: 19-07-13)


You blush? So you're the one in his sonnet, the 'Julia' with whom he's gone and done it! Say, are you happy with the way he's penned you: your body all bare, your pudenda on view? Is it your left or right breast caught in the light that peeps round the door to leer at the sight? Be glad it was Ancient Greek passion that creaked in your bed, a dead Latin voice that squeaked: for his Classic tongue has sublimated you, divesting and extolling your articles of definite 'diva inflata', mated to his indefinitely fixated particles of antique myth and abstruse allusion - nice obfuscation veiling your collusion!

Archived comments for Improper Sonnet
Bozzz on 21-07-2013
Rude and Improper Sonnet
This is a big leap Nemo, for a sonnet that juggles with words rather than playing with emotions is a hard swallow for the reader. I am not sure you have quite pulled it off, though for me it is but to applaud a brave try....Bozzz

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Bozzz, for commenting on my 'improper' sonnet. It sets out to poke fun at Julia for her lascivious behaviour and for allowing herself to be put on display in the alluded-to poet's sonnet. It also manages to break the 'rules' regarding the structure and rhyme scheme of a sonnet. More of an intellectual exercise than an attempt to convey emotion. The reader might also question the nature of Julia being portrayed as a 'diva inflata' - in what sense is she an 'inflated godess'? Thanks again, Bozzz. Perhaps I'll submit it again at a later date to see if I can gain reactions from some other people.

deadpoet on 13-10-2013
Improper Sonnet
I also like this take on a sonnet which can be a bit 'stuffy' with thous and thees and very prudent. This is the opposite. I enjoyed it very much. I thought an inflated Goddess maybe just was too fat for words!!! Ha ha

Author's Reply:
Glad it did something for you, Pia. You could also read 'inflated goddess' as a blow-up doll! G

Andrea on 13-10-2013
Improper Sonnet
Haha, I thought this was really clever and amusing (even though I haven't got a clue what constitutes a sonnet :))

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Andrea, I'm pleased you liked it. Gerald.

Nomenklatura on 14-10-2013
Improper Sonnet
Puts me in mind of
In Every Dream Home A Heartache' Roxy Music
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G56DaSAeZfM

A splendid experiment!

Regards Ewan

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Ewan. regards, Gerald.


In the Park (posted on: 01-07-13)


It was a remarkable day for thinking unremarkably in the park which is not the same as it was a remarkable day in the park for thinking unremarkably. Nevertheless, thinking was happening unremarkably in the park. This does not necessarily mean that the thinking I was doing was unremarkable. But who was going to tell me, having a nice day as instructed when I left the shop/house/restaurant/etc., that my thinking was unremarkable? Besides, it's my opinion that most people don't think their thoughts are unremarkable, in fact, they put a high value on their thoughts so much so that they usually call them private and keep them to themselves with 'keep out' signs and have to be offered a penny to share them - a penny, of course, being nowhere near the value they'd put on them nowadays. However, no-one, of course, was actually going to tell me my thinking was unremarkable but, because it was not possible for anyone apart from me to remark the thinking that was happening in the park, it could be argued contre cur, that my thinking actually was unremarkable in the park on that remarkable day.

Archived comments for In the Park
ValDohren on 01-07-2013
In the Park
Quite remarkable, or did I mean unremarkable - oh I don't know, take your pick.

Val

Author's Reply:
I'm pleased if you liked it, Val. Nemo

deadpoet on 01-07-2013
In the Park
I'd love to hear some more of your thoughts- they are quite remarkable. Hope you have a remarkable day.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, deadpoet. Sorry, I've no more thoughts at present = nothing remarkable to remark upon.


The Lumber Room (posted on: 21-06-13)


Tonight the sky is devoid of cloud, so now's the time to count the stars; after all, such counting is allowed - progress does not admit of any bars. We'll include all dead stars still shining, all the stars that have imploded, all the stars still in the making, and all those that have exploded. We must do this to expand what we know, deciding if we count from the left or the right, not missing out even the slightest glow, and getting the job done before morning light. When we finish we'll have a very long number which we'll have to roll up into a ball and store in the room with the other lumber, or drape it all along the entrance hall. Tomorrow we are going to tackle human pain and use our new knowledge to take it away. This is an advance we should easily gain, the speed we work, it'll only take a day.

Archived comments for The Lumber Room
Bozzz on 22-06-2013
The Lumber Room
This story highlights the crazy imbalance of spending on science. Things that really matter to humankind are forever tomorrow. A great issue to highlight, so bravo for that. The lines need pepping up a bit - maybe some more sharpness in satire required to match the theme....Bozzz

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commnenting, Bozzz. This poem had no predetermined end. I don't usually rhyme but in this poem I let rhyme dictate the direction of the piece. Nemo

ValDohren on 23-06-2013
The Lumber Room
Take away human pain in a day? - if only, nemo. Don't think progress has progressed that far. An excellent write I believe, and very thought-provoking. Enjoyed.
Val

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Val. A rare venture into rhyme for me. I honestly started with line 1 and let the rhymes take over with no preconceived idea of what I was going to write about. pleased you liked it. thanks for the rate! Gerald.


At the Station (posted on: 17-06-13)


When, without stopping, an express train has hurtled through the station, the commuters do not perceive how much older the people opposite grew while their view was blocked; nor, when another train clatters past in the other direction, do they see it obscure the circle of huts, the smouldering fires and the men with spears setting off to hunt for food - as if standing still's being only where you are, not stopping yourself stepping in front of the horses of the coach you don't see arrive, nor roasting your boar on a spit; as if waiting for a train is only choosing between what is and what isn't, like believing your paper's not a tree, though you're already on board, and leaving yourself behind.

Archived comments for At the Station
geordietaf on 17-06-2013
At the Station
Time reality and truth circle each other here. Thought provoking. Well done

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, geordietaf. Nemo

Slovitt on 17-06-2013
At the Station
nemo: nicely reasoned, low-key poem. i like everything about this piece. strong poem. swep

Author's Reply:
Thanks, pleased you liked it. Nemo

cooky on 17-06-2013
At the Station
I like this. The spaces in time surround us all and never leave. Our imagination will do the rest.

Author's Reply:
I'm pleased it worked for you, cooky. Thanks for the rate, Nemo.

deadpoet on 18-06-2013
At the Station
This gave me a calm feeling-like listening to a wise sage telling a story in metaphors. Enjoyed reading your poem. dp

Author's Reply:
I wish I was a wise sage! Thanks for your comment on my little poem - glad you liked it, deadpoet. Nemo.

Hekkus on 18-06-2013
At the Station
Unusual take on time and perspective. One of those pieces that deserves a 2nd and 3rd reading.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, Hekkus. I think there's meant to be a little bit of trickery in this wee poem of mine.


Drop-in (posted on: 10-06-13)


''Entre-deux-morts'', not ''Entre-Deux-Mers'' mates of his, the pair of them joking about the wine; were they sneering at his lousy attic life? Mates who'd called on him after all these years, boasting of how they were knuckling through. Recoiled in crab-retreat, flinching at every jibe, he loaded the acid sting of his last defence in case they came up with an overwhelming question; and he delved deep for cynic words to fence it off, to staunch the welling pain and check the quivering chin. They were going, they'd be back when he felt like talking: he could keep his bold riposte for another time.

Archived comments for Drop-in
deadpoet on 10-06-2013
Drop-in
I like this- slightly Avant Garde-no? DP

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, deadpoet. Avant garde? I doubt it. I wrote it nearly 30 years ago.

Weefatfella on 11-06-2013
Drop-in
 photo fd68aa69-bd2a-4057-8056-d78ca32405b1_zps7a968777.jpg Aye. If yir gonnae live forever ,at least have something nice to drink. Had me googling this one.
Weefatfella.

Author's Reply:
A cruel joke in line 1 - the poor chap in the poem - paranoid, I think, didn't hang around more than about six months after this visit - overdosed and went to his 'mort.' Thanks, nemo.

e-griff on 13-06-2013
Drop-in
I liked this, and it is well done, simple but insightful.

Two little suggestions only.

I personally would take out the brackets. They are not needed and clutter the read.

The semi-colon after 'question' could be a comma, following current writing style, although technically correct. 🙂
JohnG







Author's Reply:
Thanks, John. Removing the brackets presents new punctuation problems but I have done so to see how it 'flows.' Thanks for the suggestion. I'm giving the semi-colon some thought. Gerald


Straw People (posted on: 31-05-13)


Leaning like straw, we lean on time growing lean. The only time we have left is the time that is left. We are trapped in lean time and world of head. Within walls of time and head is all we know. Where is the hand to crawl us small and nescient out of uncertain realm of time and head?

Archived comments for Straw People
admin on 01-06-2013
Straw People
Rather clever, I thought.

Author's Reply:
Thank you, admin. Glad you liked it. Nemo


The Foreigner (posted on: 27-05-13)
An exercise in pointless writing

Fierce pains sharked through his arm. Pietro Bornorquod rent air and ears with a shriek. His bulging bad-taste suitcase did a world-shattering thud like Newton's apple from his blistered hand as, with all the desperado gusto of a weary traveller, he skeltered fatly through the narrowing lift-doors. Struck in drop by one clanging door, the suitcase not only thudded to resquiescat but was relieved to have the strain removed from its bargain locks and discharge the unwashed contents. While some bovine-standers remembered to guard their British uninterest and stiffen their upper lips, others, less patriotic, betrayed their national wrapping and blinked round, still chewing the cud, sniggering and raising their eyes almighty-wards. The lift started its ascent. The bovine standers began experiencing a instance of the vivid Present which would eventually be transposed into the Imperfect: they were staring at a happening filling a moment in their lives. They were giving it full marks for entertainment and development: from being a fat squeak, a thud and a spill, it was being continuous - it was evolving amorphously into a huge anal bend thrust malodorously at the starers; into phonemes of foreign distress; into the tumble of the bent man's personal effects from his jacket pocket: wallet, passport, papers, dirty postcards and so on, as you will have observed yourself on such occasions. Meanwhile, the lift, carrying its haul of lives to the level of the man in the street, was still going up.
Archived comments for The Foreigner
karen123 on 27-05-2013
The Foreigner
Loved the way you liked the by standers to cows - cows do look at the world with such disdain.
Wan't at all pointless - I enjoyed it.


Author's Reply:
Thanks, Karen. This was written 46 years ago! Nemo

Andrea on 27-05-2013
The Foreigner
Oh, I thought this was really good. Prose poetry at its best, I thought.

Don't forget your anthology votes! (I know I keep going on about it, but the UKA Anthologies are pretty well-known and well-thought of, so look v good on your CV 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Andrea. One of my first pieces of writing. (PMs and webmaster notifications are working now!) Gerald.

Andrea on 27-05-2013
The Foreigner
Oh good, delighted to hear it! Check out the main site front page for details of the Anthology Voting (under 'Voting is underway...')

Author's Reply:

freya on 28-05-2013
The Foreigner
it was evolving amorphously into a huge anal bend thrust malodorously at the starers; into phonemes of foreign distress

HA HA HA The most hilarious read I've had in ages! I am quite content, though, to be 'experiencing' this event from a great distance. This has GOT to have a nib, preferably one of Latin origin. A nemo nibbus. An excellent example of pointless writing, my friend. Shelagh 🙂

Author's Reply:
I'm very pleased you liked it, Shelagh. But after all the years since I wrote it (1967), I'm still not sure 'amorphously' is right. I must have liked the word at the time. Thanks. Gerald

Nemo on 28-05-2013
The Foreigner
Again, thank you to whoever awarded me the Nib for this. Nemo.

Author's Reply:


Home Thoughts (posted on: 27-05-13)


If privilege shared's forfeit repaired, then my searing secret should be aired: for oft I hear the Thump-it Voluntary of Man's New Child and his pulmonary aubade when, bleating like a sheep misled, Britain's future tumbles out of bed. Lusty lungs negate the party wall: detonating tantrums plump their pall of poisoned breath on hopeful risers: my 'nice day' is choked by little blighters soon propelled outdoors by irate hand - always when some gardening I have planned. ''Ello mister'' shakes the flimsy fence, mouthing little else that makes much sense. ''Wotcha mate'' demands attention now; I must stay and answer I know how three neglectful years and mother's pride clobber the neighbour who tries to hide: for, of flying stones, there is no lack; broken toys politely handed back don't prevent the pebble in the eye - will their parents venture out to try? only bedtime halts the fusillade; then begins the wailing serenade

Archived comments for Home Thoughts
karen123 on 27-05-2013
Home Thoughts
There is the other end of the spectrum - I have an elderly neighbour who likes to chat but I have limited time in the day and I have to creep out in my garden if I want to get anything done.
A great poem - just wait until they are teens and the parties start!

Author's Reply:
Thanks , Karen. Actually, they are grown up now - this poem was written 30 years ago! Nemo.

ValDohren on 27-05-2013
Home Thoughts
Britain"a future - a scary thought when seeing the kids of today ! At least I won't be around to witness it. Great poem, even for a 30-year old! (Poem, I mean).

Val

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, ValDohren. Pleased you liked it. One of my very few rhyming ones.

orangedream on 28-05-2013
Home Thoughts
I can so identify with this one, nemo. We have new neighbours with twin girls, aged 3. They are fiery red-heads with strong lungs to match, along with their statutory climbing frame and trampoline, I am longing for the day they start school;-)

Congrats on the more than deserved nib, by the way.

Tina

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Tina. Yes, a problem we had to live with. Makes one sound like a snob. Over now, fortunately. I'm very pleased about the Nib - by whom these are awarded is a mystery to me! Gerald


Departures (posted on: 20-05-13)


I have often stood bemused across the river from fabled Pocahontas' grave, once Defoe country, his brickworks and Crusoe, a place you don't name for fear of ridicule, now a murk-rippled Thames' scummy shoreline. Arriving seagulls shriek in derision; dingy dredgers dawdle like shifty tramps; lumpen container ships insult the humbled port; cranes droop and rust, rail tracks disappear under shabby weeds - the only life reclaiming this stretch of river. A lone angler stares at the unyielding water, scant hope in a desolate place. Behind me a whiteboarded pub, 'The World's End', named by a jester as though this miserable river front could ever match Finis Terrae. Yet in some ways it does. It is the crumbling jetty, the visible vestige, of our old world - tall ships, clippers, cutters and coasters, purveyors of empire and ten pound liners heading out to Australia. Departures with no landmark, no Three Graces or torch bearing statue, no nostalgic image to hold dear. Now just a dismissive wave of a hand.

Archived comments for Departures
franciman on 20-05-2013
Departures
Hi Nemo,
'Dingy dredgers dawdle' music to my ears. This piece is like a grainy black and white photograph, you know, like everything is shown in stark relief. The analogy of the lone fisherman and his scant hope in a desolate place; followed by the allusion to World's End, are highlights in a high quality verse.
'Just a dismissive wave of a hand' though, is the peach for me. I wish that I had written that. One tiny niggle: should it be: just the dismissive wave of a hand, or vise versa?
Another one I will return to long after day's end.
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
I'm enjoying reading your comment, it's peach. Many thanks, Jim. I thought long and hard about the last line when I wrote it - 'Just a dismissive wave of a hand' to me seems more impersonal and lonelier, as if there's only one person waving. Maybe someone else will also tell me what they think of it. Gerald

Savvi on 20-05-2013
Departures
Lovely alliteration, glad you chose this one to share again as I have missed it, this for me could fit far too many places were once thriving industry has been stopped and left to stand. Love the image of the lone angler and the last Stanza. S

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, Savvi, and thanks for the rate. An important poem for me. Gerald

Slovitt on 21-05-2013
Departures
nemo: your poem is in the last three stanzas for me, and they are excellent, tight, detailed, and the poet processing for himself and the reader. 2nd stanza very chunky with its surfeit of adjectives, the lone angler near its end more the kind of writing perhaps the stanza could profit from. a good poem. swep

Author's Reply:
Thanks, swep, for revisiting my poem. Last time you thought I could dispense with the first stanza but I can't as it is essential if British readers are to know which part of England I am writing about. This time you want me to tighten the second stanza but this would weaken or nullify the depressing images which are an inescapable feature of this section of the Thames. I'm very pleased, however, that the last three stanzas meet with your approval. Gerald.

karen123 on 21-05-2013
Departures
I know that Pocahuntas and John Rolfe were (supposedly) buried in Gravesend - a place I have visited many times. Gravesend train station has to be one of the bleakest in the world. I didn't know the Thames ran through there but I looked it up and it does so perhaps I have stood where you have stood.
Your poem certainly fits the area. It was dark and depressing as if the sun hasn't shone there for a long time.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, karen123. The poem describes the river front at Tilbury, immediately opposite Gravesend.

karen123 on 21-05-2013
Departures
I know Tilbury!

Author's Reply:
You are very lucky!

freya on 22-05-2013
Departures
Well, you've done it again, Gerald. Couldn't you have thrown in a typo or something so I could suggest an edit? *grin* A tour de force, this. Love Jim's description of your poem as 'like a grainy black and white photograph'. So apt. Black and white pictures and paintings evoke such atmosphere, such a deep sense of mood for me, and Departures does too. And how about another name I can drop into the praise? How about a Vermeer painting? Adore his work. Could get lost forever in gazing at his incredible use of detail and light. Do I need to say I like this? You're going to have to buy me more favorites space though, my friend! 🙂 Shelagh

Author's Reply:
Wow, that's very complimentary of you, thank you so much, Shelagh. This is a one-off, I don't think I'll do any others like this. I must have been possessed when I wrote it. So pleased you liked it. Gerald.

rcc on 24-05-2013
Departures
I love your descriptions of the Thames reality..in the US we grow up reading of "Avon-on-the-Thames" and Will Shakespeare and imagine a beauty that would rival Sam Clemens "Mighty Mississippi". But if you stand on the banks of my Mississippi River in my home town you will see the debris and detritus of humans --- talk about your scummy shorelines---- and your second verse........
"Dingy dredgers dawdle like shifty tramps,
lumpen container ships insult the humbled port,
cranes droop and rust, rail tracks disappear
under shabby weeds - " I see it, period...I am there. The last three verses roll smoothly when read out loud... and I love your reference to "Finis Terrae". Your work seems to always educate me because I have to look up something...wonderful..........thanks for the read--..........peace-robert


Author's Reply:
Thanks for your comment - glad you liked my poem. The Thames is not all this grim. More attractive in London itself, and further upstream. Just this view of the river at Tilbury and what the port used to be like is what got to me. Regards, Nemo.

Nemo on 25-05-2013
Departures
Thank you to whoever selected this for a Nib! Nemo

Author's Reply:


Asylum (posted on: 20-05-13)


White-coated greetings, stinging questions, back with the morning, drone straight at me, then swarm past, turmoil in their wake, a whirlpool of noise, muddying the air, spinning, sucking me into its still-centre of thrumming silence: and I curl myself up in my rolled-up vacuum, my solitary where I hang out my days, one by one, back turned to the here-and-now peeping in, rattling keys. Still, after the pills, a nightingale sings: the trees have sparkles in their hair: wide-armed, I can inhale the world, roam knee-deep in darkness, and be myself till dawn.

Archived comments for Asylum
rcc on 24-05-2013
Asylum
"roam knee-deep in darkness,
and be myself till dawn."
WOW------I really like the poem, but that last stanza is the proverbial knock-out punch. Thanks for sharing - gfp!..........peace--robert

Author's Reply:
Glad you liked it, Robert. Thanks for reading and commenting. Nemo

Nemo on 25-05-2013
Asylum
Thank you to whoever got me the Nib for this and Departures. Nemo

Author's Reply:


Valediction (posted on: 13-05-13)
On hearing that my old school is being pulled down after 92 years.

They're demolishing my old school without asking, the classrooms have been emptied for the last time, but the sorrow of their emptiness will hang around, the way the smell of cleanliness at the start of term hurts like a new beginning in the pit of the stomach. Old boys will think on the times they returned: the painful rush of memories at an old desk, images of former selves, the gauntlet of corridors. What's left for survival's indeterminate compromise but a poor elsewhere for reflection on those they knew and didn't know who went off to die in war or life? Even the nothingness that remains of what was lived and learnt is being obliterated: soon there will be no grave at which to mourn.

Archived comments for Valediction
Nomenklatura on 13-05-2013
Valediction
I can never decide if i'm with Steely Dan or Paul Simon. Even so I know I'd be sad if my old school was knocked down. Maybe it has been.

Anyway, as you can probably guess, I like the ambivalence of this.

regards
Ewan

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, Ewan. The merger with another school has been a disaster, with redundancies and dissatisfied parents and pupils.

Hekkus on 14-05-2013
Valediction
It's extraordinary how powerful the memory of schooldays can be. I remember mine and they finished 46 years ago! You caught that feeling here. Nice piece of free verse.

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it, Hekkus. 51 years in my case! Nemo.

Pronto on 15-05-2013
Valediction
Very nostalgic, My old school's a car park now!
Good write mate.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Pronto. It should be a crime to destroy these 'historic' sites.

ValDohren on 16-05-2013
Valediction
And my old primary school is now a housing estate - and I'm not 'fessing up to how long ago that was !!! Good one nemo.

Val

Author's Reply:
Glad you liked it, Val. For centering, I don't use
because the left hand side doesn't stay perpendicular. I prefer
three or four times. N0
needed. Nemo


After Seeing Thomas Hood's Poem on the Underground (posted on: 06-05-13)


I remember, yes, I too remember the house where I was born, and the only photograph I remember is the one I do not have of the front, taken before the war which commandeered for bombs the railings and the wrought-iron gate. I remember the jagged stumps, the missing gate like a loss of face; the absurdity of the cloche hats of my mother sadly smiling sadly; of my kind aunt, too, with no kids to spoil, who kindly spoilt me with plums till I was sick, and saved up her suicide for her retirement. I remember the dining-room, agony of long evenings, wind howling under floor-boards, lino lifting, reek of smoke filling the air, the Bakelite wireless in the corner, wheezing and spluttering in and out of life, my father causing friction twiddling dials. I remember the air-raid shelter my parents shared with old Mrs Weaver till the last all-clear, the cat that sulked in the cherry-tree if left for a day; flour-faced Mrs Weaver, my first death at eight; the cat at ten, just a whiff of gas, after his trouble in the coal-shed. I remember the landing, where I stood and it was always cold, and I'd call that I couldn't sleep, as they niggled away downstairs, the one coal fire petering out, a smouldering rumble of a row she would miss when he'd gone. I remember the front room, conserved for special occasions and never used, icy as a monk's cell, my Meccano retreat. I google and see new railings, a new gate - I imagine phantoms gliding from room to room, trampling over the boy on the landing as they traipse through the man on the train.

Archived comments for After Seeing Thomas Hood's Poem on the Underground
stormwolf on 06-05-2013
On the Underground
Hi Nemo
I thought this was excellent. Very atmospheric and reminiscent of those days that those of the certain age will identify with. (a bit before my time 😉 )
The only bit that got me was this...
' taken before the war
which took away for bombs the railings
and the gate my father loved to paint.'
I know what you are saying but the grammar is a bit clumsy I think.

What about
is the one I do not have
taken at the front,
before the war effort
stripped away the railings
and the gate my father loved to paint
I got the first two lines and funny enough was only reciting that poem in my head this very morning!
loved Thomas Hood and that is one of my personal favourites.
Alison x

Author's Reply:
Hi Alison! Thank you for reading and commenting on my poem. I agree that those three lines are a little hard to digest. Thanks for your suggested lines - I'll think long and hard about them. Thanks again, Nemo.

teifii on 06-05-2013
On the Underground
A very atmospheric autobiography. I don't think there is anything wrong with those 3 lines - and I'm a bit of agrammar pedant.

Author's Reply:
Thanks, teifii. I tend to agree with you as I've been a professional grammarian for 44 years. Thanks for your comment. Nemo.

Bozzz on 06-05-2013
On the Underground
I tend to agree that the 'taken' and the 'took' are too close and hence confusing. Alison's 'Stripped away' is better than 'took' for the railings. Correct grammar is not the issue. It can bring clumsy sentences as easily as bad grammar can !?.....Bozzz

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Bozzz. if I must change anything, it'll be be to use 'removed' instead of 'took away.' !! Simples. not 'stripped away', come on now. Only 8 for a Nib? what's going on? Cheers, nemo.

stormwolf on 07-05-2013
On the Underground
Oh dear. :-(((
Seems my suggestion grated and people are 'pulling rank' re grammar but I am afraid I stand by what I said, totally and the 'stripped away' was just off the top of my head in an instant to try to put across what I was saying. Honest feedback is crucial.
Our ratings are to do with personal opinion Nemo and many times a poem rated 8 gets nibbed. Anyway, congrats on the nib.


Author's Reply:
No, Alison, your suggestion didn't grate with me but I don't want to lose the 'bombs' reference as younger readers might not know why railings, etc, were commandeered during the war. I don't think anyone's pulling rank over grammar, just coming with different angles and experience, as they are with their ratings. I was joking about the 8 by the way! Nemo.

stormwolf on 07-05-2013
On the Underground
Yes, fully understand but if you wanted to keep bombs then it would have read better (to me)

which took the railings away for bombs ;/

the inference was in both your comment and Teifii's that a lifetime of grammar rendered 'my' opinion worthless. I am not as old as you but I do posses an A pass in A level English for what it's worth;-(

As you know, I recite all my work and this would have stood out in recitation. just explaining my viewpoint for posterity lol



Anyway, I noticed you have changed it and it reads better now.

Author's Reply:
We are all happy now. I've had a few comments on this poem, which doesn't always happen - some of my poems receive lots of hits but go uncommented on and that's not very helpful, is it? Nemo.

Rupe on 07-05-2013
On the Underground
I thought this was very good - a sturdy and powerfully affecting piece which makes good use of telling detail throughout.

That said, I think it could do with a thorough edit. Obviously where you go with it is entirely up to you - but the following stuck out for me:

- the whole of the first verse seemed unnecessary. The poem really gets going in the second. So this could either be reworked or discarded.
- 'mother sadly smiling sadly'. Why repeat 'sadly' here? I can see the logic in repetition of 'kindly' in the line below, but I felt the repetition of 'sadly' doesn't really achieve anything.
- 'conserved for special occasions'. I'd go with 'reserved'. Perhaps 'conserved' can be used legitimately in this context, but it always makes me think of jam.
- the last two lines of the last verse. I don't understand how the phantoms can simultaneously trample the boy on the landing and traipse through the man on the train. Do phantoms 'traipse' in any case? This might of course just be me being thick, having missed a vital clue in the rest of the poem - in which case it wouldn't be the first time.

Feel free to ignore, of course, but there's my tuppence worth.

Rupe

Author's Reply:
Thanks for going to town on this poem. It is still only two years old and hasn't had time to settle. 'Sadly' is repeated deliberated, using two meanings of the word. Important to me. 'Conserved' is there to startle whereas 'reserved' is so ordinary.' The boy is the now the man so as they trample on me when I'm small they traipse through me at the same time. It's only poetic fantasy. They 'traipse' because' they can't 'trample' through me - it's not possible, is it? Of course, it happens at the same time. And it's happening now, and might be happening to you. The people who now live in my old house have no idea what went on before with previous occupants. I find that a mind-blowing thought. There's bound to be bits of an amateur's poem which don't work for the reader but which do for the writer. But I'll give your thoughts some thought, oh no, a repetition! I'm pleased I've got a reaction from people. I've posted several poems which have received plenty of hits but No comments - that's not very helpful, is it? Regards, Gerald. Hope to hear from you again.

freya on 07-05-2013
On the Underground
Well, Gerald, you wanted more feed-back! This wholly deserves the nib, with far too many fine lines and images, one after another, to quote.

Must say, on my first reading yesterday, I was slightly tripped up by the wording in some of the places mentioned by Alison, Bozz and Rupe, though I got the meaning, throughout. I know I mentally and briefly considered whether a well placed comma here and there might resolve the hitches. But since then you've decided on an edit, it seems, and it now reads pretty smoothly. However not in the repeated sadly sadly phrase. I happen to delight in this play on words and meaning that I've seen in your work before, so what about a comma to separate one meaning from the other?

Tend to think Rupe has a point on at least the first line of your opening stanza. Don't understand why your narrator is telling us he 'too remembers'. It is as if he is addressing either someone else, or perhaps looking at something seen depicted in the subway which triggers memories of the childhood home. Perhaps the poem would benefit from cutting this reference out.

Absolutely blown away by your resolution. Understand it completely and find it extremely effective. Excellent poem. Shelagh

Author's Reply:
Hi Shelagh! Quoting your words: 'It is as if he is addressing either someone else, or perhaps looking at something seen depicted in the subway which triggers memories of the childhood home' - this is indeed the intention behind the first two lines - unless I establish that I'm reacting to a poem on the Underground, I can't have the new owners trampling over me wherever I go, including the train. I'll give the comma some thought. I like a nice comma. Yes, pleasing that this poem has provoked some reaction but 'Rain' which I think is more accomplished (metaphorically) is not getting a look. Ah well, Gerald.

freya on 07-05-2013
On the Underground
So Gerald, this is like the oil spill in another poem - how can a reader get what you've just told me? Either, tell us in the body of your poem, or put it in your heading:

"I remember, I remember..." Inspired by/from a poem read on the walls of the underground

Or some such. Shelagh

Author's Reply:
This is a reposting! I posted this a few weeks ago with precisely that information in the title - and nobody read it! Can't win, can I? ( I imagined his poem to be on display in the trains themselves - though it might not be. ) Nemo.

orangedream on 07-05-2013
On the Underground
Just to say I really enjoyed this. Brilliant writing.

Tina;-)

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Tina, for your appreciative comment. nemo

Andrea on 07-05-2013
On the Underground
Loved it. I remember too 🙂

Author's Reply:
Great. Thanks, Andrea.

rcc on 17-05-2013
After Reading Thomas Hood on the Underground
I liked it very much...the lines that seem to be the topic of your comments caught me "computer reading" aka skimming-- but I had to go back because it didn't flow. When I slowed down and read the thing out loud it was perfect. I expected the SOV (subject-object-verb) in my skim (and I apologize for skimming, nasty habit) and when you flip-flopped the order it was like a record skipping in my head.... very good poem about a time almost forgotten. Imagine, today's wars, same as the old wars to the ones fighting, but the rest of the world hardly misses a beat. They don't commandeer your front porch, or your bicycle tires, or your copper...they ask no sacrifice anymore...they don't want to call attention to their deadly but profitable enterprise, war. thanks for the read..........peace-robert

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, rcc. Glad you liked it.


And the Rest (posted on: 29-04-13)


I keep going back to the beginning, because I must, because I must go back, retracing, retracing tentacle-thoughts, twisting, twisting back to that cloudless day, that cloudless day they kept us waiting, kept us waiting till the evening, till the evening was quiet, quiet like a child asleep, asleep when we arrived. We arrived because they called. They called when they realised. They realised it was something, something for a man in white. A man in white who hurried away, hurried away when we were in sight, in sight of his need to prepare, to prepare his clinical face, his clinical face that had to be in the right place, in the right place with the cups of tea, the cups of tea waiting with the chairs, the chairs put out ready by the nurse, the nurse who hovered with the shaking tea, the shaking tea we took in both hands after he told us. He told us what he'd seen on the X-ray, the X-ray which revealed it all, and the rest, and the rest is why I keep going back to the beginning.

Archived comments for And the Rest
ValDohren on 29-04-2013
And the Rest
Great loop poem Nemo, very poignant, well penned.

Val

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, ValDohren.

Witchysmyth on 29-04-2013
And the Rest
Wow!.....Just, Wow! It rushes to conclusion...painfully. Well done.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting on my poem.

freya on 29-04-2013
And the Rest
Gerald, a stunningly effective repetition, skilfully mirroring the confused shock and numbed disbelief of your narrator.

Did I just say you are a poet who writes from an entirely different perspective than I? That you keep your speaker and feelings 'at a distance', relying on the narrative and imagery to evoke an emotional reaction?

Well, I was wrong. And this poem proves it.

Wondering if you need the formality of all the punctuation. Your line breaks give sufficient pause to avoid reader confusion in most places. Though I'd keep it in some instances where it emphasizes the portent quality of what is happening:

asleep when we arrived.
We arrived because they called.

They called when they realised.
They realised it was something

Think I'd even consider/try a full stop and following capital after:

quiet like a child asleep[,] (.)

[a] (A)sleep when we arrived.

Just a thought, anyway. Excellent, excellent work. Shelagh


Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Shelagh, for your comments on this poem. It was written as long ago as 1985! I'll think about your thoughts on the punctuation, thanks. Nemo.

freya on 30-04-2013
And the Rest
Hah! At last, our Great Anonymous Nibber has started taking a closer look at your work!

Congrats. Moi, freya

Author's Reply:
All hail, the Great Anonymous Nibber!!

Hekkus on 02-05-2013
And the Rest
A very good build- up of tension. The repetition of phrases was a good way to increase the sense of dread.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, Hekkus.


Goldfish (posted on: 19-04-13)


It's quiet - just her muttering and mumbling all day long, and outside, a double-muffled melange of frosted voices scurrying past. The numbness she has, the gnawing, damp, weathering of sensation, has her fidgeting between naps, then turning her blurred eyes to question the incomprehensible street, or fiercely cross-examine his empty chair. The hollowness, the wandering ache, amongst all the dustless clutter of valuable things in the assembly kit that made their latest home, is her, dispossessed of how she used to be. For she remembers chirpy whistling days with windows that breathed, seasons strolling in for a chat, grubby knees at open doors, and laughter scampering from room to room. Now nothing stirs, nothing except time creeping round, outdating the shiny things, like her goldfish stalking quietus round the bowl.

Archived comments for Goldfish
Mikeverdi on 19-04-2013
Goldfish
Like this a lot, so much in here; one I will read again. Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks for noticing me at the bottom of the list! It doesn't seem to make any difference when you submit! Thanks for your comment on my poem. Glad you liked it!

Andrea on 19-04-2013
Goldfish
Enjoyed this, nemo. Rather sad.

No, it doesn't matter when you submit. In the interests of fairness, submissions are auto-shuffled on upload 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, Andrea. Thanks for the info about submissions.

teifii on 19-04-2013
Goldfish
Can't see any link to recommend for anthology. Is it me? Anyway brilliant poem.

Author's Reply:
Thank you, teifiii for your comment and recommending my poem.


The Artless Bodger's Attempt at an Art Potique (posted on: 08-04-13)


I shall measure out my life with spoonfuls of borrowed ideas and with a pretence of knowing about this and that and poetry. Just tell me the ingredients of a good poem and I shall have a go at writing one. And tell me the right form and shape so that it looks right on the page, and I will knock it about a bit so that the lines end at the right place Meanwhile, once more creeps on me the urge to write and churn it out like this:
The jolly verse that off my tongue doth trip Maketh all the girls' hearts to dance and skip
But who has powers these days to sit and rhyme? Sitting and rhyming we lay waste our time. Or perhaps I'll try another tack:
On woeful jazz-days like this I stand and stare and cannot piss
Write like this and they'll throw it back. 'Ere, why don't I try a little nonsense spoof?
It's late, the cats are howling on the roof, My husband will not be home tonight
No, this won't do, the subject's too trite! What if I hold a short idea between my teeth like elastic and pull?
Yes but, how far? How far? Far enough's too frightening, Far far too frightening, Far far too Pascalian, much too far to It's a long way to when will I ever ...
Write like this and the answer's never! Well, at least I'm on my guard against self-deceit, ever since a man did accost me in the street, and he did insult me with no uncertain greet ing, and ready, I, to go on my my thought how oft doth wisdom cry out int strasse, a nasty bodger he called me und so me geschtoppt und listund: he said "Write no tripe in cryptic lang uage and eschew lousy lines that just hang together in sepulchral sound sjust knocked around."

Archived comments for The Artless Bodger's Attempt at an Art Potique
cooky on 08-04-2013
The Artless Bodger’s Attempt at an Art Poétique
Entertaining and thoughtful. I like this

Author's Reply:
From 1970. Thanks for reading and commenting, cooky.

shadow on 08-04-2013
The Artless Bodger’s Attempt at an Art Poétique
Ah, so that's how it's done. Looks fun, I may have a go myself.

Author's Reply:
Well done.

ValDohren on 08-04-2013
The Artless Bodger’s Attempt at an Art Poétique
Love it memo, very amusing and novel write - makes me wonder what really does constitute a good poem ! It's all in the mind of the beholder I guess, a bit like beauty.

Val 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thank you for reading and commenting on my youthful poem, ValDohren. I'm pleased you enjoyed it. It still amuses me, too.

Bozzz on 08-04-2013
The Artless Bodger’s Attempt at an Art Poétique
This is how to sectioned get.
Asylum beckons - you'll regret!
Grrrrr ...Bozzz


Author's Reply:
Wrote this 43 years ago - still not sectioned - but perhaps I should be, Bozzz, thanks.

Nomenklatura on 09-04-2013
The Artless Bodger’s Attempt at an Art Poétique
That's worth 10. From someone whose poetry unfortunately reflects many things that this contains.

Author's Reply:
Many thanks! Probably the fifth poem I ever wrote. I don't know whether you've heard of the 'Liverpool Poets'? I wrote this 39 years ago because I was outraged by the insipid quality of what one of them had managed to get published. Not Roger McGough. Nemo

freya on 09-04-2013
The Artless Bodger’s Attempt at an Art Poétique
Well Nemo, plenty of attention for this one. It's being tweeted everywhere. Fame at last! Shelagh

Author's Reply:
Thanks, freya. Ironic, isn't it, an 'anti-poem' I bodged together some 39 years ago!

Bozzz on 11-04-2013
The Artless Bodger’s Attempt at an Art Poétique
Second thoughts. A real and present danger looms. All missiles are being loaded. Take care that the are no more accidental skirmishes - twitterisation of poetry is the last refuge of the rhymeless poet. ... Love it ...David

Author's Reply:
Many thanks for revisiting this "poem!" As I said to NomenKlatura, it's probably the fifth poem I ever wrote. I don't know whether you've heard of the 'Liverpool Poets'? I wrote this 39 years ago because I was outraged by the insipid quality of what one of them had managed to get published. Not Roger McGough. Nemo

jay12 on 11-04-2013
The Artless Bodger’s Attempt at an Art Poétique
This is really well done. Original & entertaining.

Jay.

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Jay, for reading and commenting.

stormwolf on 11-04-2013
The Artless Bodger’s Attempt at an Art Poétique
Imaginative, creative and it works! I could not even begin to write a poem like this. Well done on the nib too.
Aliison x

Author's Reply:
Thank you for your appreciative comment, Alison. A youthful piece.

teifii on 12-04-2013
The Artless Bodger’s Attempt at an Art Poétique
Really clever and fun to read.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, teifii.


In Attendance (posted on: 05-04-13)


From the boundary of cypresses, the cassock-wings of a hang-glider minister closer and closer. On the chapel path, a fresh droplet of black oil from the hearse has put out and lost a human form, only minutes since delivery of the diminutive, beribboned box. Beyond the hedges round each raked and numbered bed, the town, the world, resumption, stand back for blotch-red grief, a couple's stumbling timelessness. Nervously, sympathy gets ready, to be useful, with useless arms.

Archived comments for In Attendance
Slovitt on 07-04-2013
In Attendance
nemo: this is sparer than the other pieces of yours i've read. sparer, offering the essentials and little else. "droplet of black oil/...lost a human form" is obscure to me. "blotch-red grief" doesn't create an image in my mind, doesn't resonate. last 2 lines understated and very strong, and "to be useful, with useless arms." is just right, helplessness given tongue. a good poem, swep

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, Slovitt. Nemo.

freya on 08-04-2013
In Attendance
Oh, another starkly effective piece, Nemo, with memorable lines and images:

the cassock-wings of a hang-glider
minister closer and closer.

and especially - in total agreement with Swep - the power of your resolution:

Nervously, sympathy gets ready,
to be useful, with useless arms.

Though you don't need that comma after 'ready'.

I, too, puzzled over the black oil reference, even though I understood you to be talking about cremation? But excellent work. Shelagh

Author's Reply:
Thank you freya for reading and commenting. Nemo.

freya on 09-04-2013
In Attendance
Perfect edit! It works. Into my favorites list it goes. Shelagh

Author's Reply:
Thanks, freya for the prompt. I'll keep the comma after 'ready' to slow up the reader, and to highlight the cynicism of the last line. Nemo.


Closing the Door (posted on: 29-03-13)


When he reached fifty, head office called him up. He packed an overnight case, caught the train to Birmingham. We're letting you go, they said, and sent him home. Next day the fire was lit, and we were having tea, when he came back. The draught whistled as he closed the door, and smoke filled the room. He sat at the table, his head in his hands, and didn't make a sound. She stopped eating and stared, taking in what she'd lost, what she'd never had. It was one of those moments when you didn't make a noise while you ate, and then you slunk away to bed, the draught whistling as you closed the door, the fire belching smoke. Poison in the air.

Archived comments for Closing the Door
Griffonner on 29-03-2013
Closing the Door
I really like this, Nemo. First class bit of crafting.

Author's Reply:
Glad you like it. A venture into simple language. Many thanks, Griffonner. Nemo.

Bozzz on 29-03-2013
Closing the Door
Gerald, I have moved my comment but I cannot move your response - I think you will have to do it/ Yrs, David

Author's Reply:

Mikeverdi on 30-03-2013
Closing the Door
I was deeply moved by this one, maybe one or two unnecessary joining words... but none the less one of your best for me. Mike

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Mike. This is unusually verbally lightweight for me. Can't think of which connectives I could dispense with, though. Thanks for the rate!

freya on 30-03-2013
Closing the Door
Killer last line which absolutely nails the point your narrator is making.

Mulling over a couple of word choices here:

It was one of those moments
When you didn’t make a noise

I thought 'times' and 'sound' to perhaps heighten the tension a bit?

But not a big deal. Very good work. Congrats on the nib! Shelagh

Author's Reply:
Thanks for your comment, Shelagh. I'll try out 'times' and 'sound', thank you.

ChairmanWow on 30-03-2013
Closing the Door
Always powerful to see harsh family events through eyes of a child. Excellent work.

Ralph

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it. Thanks, Chairmanwow.

japanesewind on 31-03-2013
Closing the Door
Gerald the overall "feeling" for all concerned came across well and engaged the readers feelings I thought.

I think Freyas thoughts were interesting in how they changed the dymamic of middle class to something more grittier. the words "did'nt make a sound" are now in there twice though.

I had to wonder whether he would "pack an overnight bag"
to go to head office? backed up by knowing he was "back for tea".

I could see the draught whistling from an outer door
being opened/closed when the father came home.
but the same thing from an internal door to the stairs
made me wonder if the effect would be the same.

thanks for a poem to ponder...David

Author's Reply:
Thanks for your fine tooth-comb picking, David. Are you old enough to remember coal fires? The opening dining-room door did cause smoke to billow out of the fireplace. I wasn't happy about changing 'moments' and 'noise' so I've reverted. He packed an overnight case because he knew he wouldn't be back the same day. But I've inserted 'The next day' to keep you happy.


Tree Love (posted on: 25-03-13)


We have to love our apricot tree, and love it extra hard in winter. That's when we have to love its brain pulsing with synaptic sparrows, love its coursing veins and arteries x-rayed against the retinal sky. We have to love it for braving it out when dripping wet and aching cold, love it for defiantly sleeping rough, for not coming in at night, not even when bent with snow or gnawed by frost. We even have to love it for making do with sorry scraps of slimy slough scavenging worms have chewed and shat. And we have to love it, too, in spring, when our unconditional love is returned with sprigs of bridal blossoms, a Derby Day hat plumed in glistening green, and, if we've really loved it hard enough, a grinning pride of cherub-bottomed babes.

Archived comments for Tree Love
japanesewind on 27-03-2013
Tree Love
Hi Gerald, enjoyed the way the tree rewards you after being looked after through the winter, I too love trees.

I would love to know if some of my interpretations of the poem were correct.

The wording "Synaptic sparrows" is fairly abstract on first
reading and I usually associate "Synaptic" with the brain
and the firing of messages to it.

You used the word brain within the verse, so my interpretation was this.
The trees "Brain" is its "Crown" and that the "Sparrows"
gathering there for shelter move around "In the brain"
like "Snaptic firings".

We have a "Clinging Ivy" attatched to the wall of the house opposite that teems with "Sparrows" and you could apply your comparison to them no problem.

Point 2...."love its coursing veins and arteries
x-rayed against the retinal sky."

The above lines gave me trouble, "Veins and Arteries"
are usually concealed within the body and the only thing I can think of that could be "X-rayed" against the sky are the trees branches, is it the trees branches that are silhouetted? and they look like " Veins and Arteries" branching off?

The word "Retinal" is usually thought of in conjunction with
the human eye, but in the context you have used it I assume you want the reader to think off the colour "White" .

Thanks for bearing with me, enjoyed this a lot....D



Author's Reply:
You are correct in your interpretations of my images. The sky is like a retina and the branches are veins and arteries spread across - I was thinking of the optician's retina screening. I think you've got there. pleased you liked this.

ChairmanWow on 27-03-2013
Tree Love
Enjoyed the poem. Unique imagery that puts across that plants do respond to love (and therefore hostility too).


Ralph

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Ralph. I hope our apricot tree recovers from this hard winter. We got nothing last summer.


The Street (posted on: 08-03-13)


I kept asking myself why. Why was I going back? Would you? Will you? Why? The M1 and then the M6, mile after mile, and this question kept nagging me, like a lingering hangover, or teeth set on edge by a cold. Going back was it something everyone wanted to do or did? To relive the past, for what it was worth? It wasn't as if anyone I knew or had known lived there anymore. I parked at Woodside; now a vast empty space for the wind to rampage around like a hooligan on Saturday night, and the familiar salty smell gusting off the river nearby greeted me like an old friend. Woodside, the trees long gone to make ships for King Henry, had been a station once. A huge cathedral of a station, high-roofed, a whole history book of journeys, vacations, evacuations, soldiers, many leaving, not so many returning, and holidays with my aunt in the South, packed off on my own. The age of steam: the smoking, towering engines that had terrified and captivated the small boy with their fiery smell, their sudden, unexpected belches of steam. Trains that ran for a hundred years between Birkenhead and London, and then stopped - for progress. Nothing left but an invisible past and the cinders of the unmade car park that crunched unceremoniously beneath my feet. Spilling carelessly out of their car, some hooded youths hurtled past and sped down to the pier head, their laughter stinging like an insult, steaming in the cold air. The Pride of Birkenhead: it was a ferry I remembered, well past the end of its life, aching and shuddering as it churned away from the pier, its haul of passengers heavy with their thoughts and themselves, and instantly forgettable impressions of the moment. A subdued and sombre River Mersey returned my gaze no use looking for the ocean-going liners, no more ships bringing sugar and tea, having discharged their cargoes of slaves on the other side of the world this once great port of Liverpool had been on the dole for fifty years and was still looking for work. The ferry docked. I was in Liverpool. I had been ferried across the Mersey, once again, and not a guitar in sight. Arrogant and unrepentant, the profit of empire and exploitation, the city's majestic buildings loomed high above me as I progressed past the Liver building, the banks, the department stores, the Walker Art Gallery, St. George's Hall, Lime Street Station until I reached Beyond. Beyond was a residential slum, in various stages of being pulled down. The City of Culture 2008 was rebuilding itself. Putting on a new face. But it had missed a bit - the terraced street I was looking for, and finding now: the madeleine in the tisane, raising associations of my father and his friend, Mr Hobbs, the watch repairer. It was late afternoon - and noticeably autumnal. The street had that tired-of-waiting-are-we-there-yet-look. You could sense the frustration suspended between the houses like washing left out too long, greying and taking on a rancid smell, giving back to the wind. And soon, the street seemed to close in on me, like a gang of thugs emboldened by the fading light, poised to pounce. Here and there, unable to stand any longer, a house had been taken away. On either side, the patchwork of wallpaper made a show, like a domestic scene. In tatters. Would-be mechanics fiddling with a car in someone's lounge, followed me with furtive eyes. Now and again, there would be houses boarded up and waiting to go; or others, the front door wide open to the street, emitting intimate smells; and the drooling dog with a bark from hell; its bloated bull of an owner snarling from the back room, in a greasy vest, ''Looking for someone, pal?'' Fearing even no answer might provoke him, I would hurry by, pretending not to have heard, dodging the dogs' mess and holding my breath past the piles of uncollected rubbish, abandoned by the latest strike. Mothers on doorsteps would eye me tensely, as if I bore bad news like a telegraph boy, then would look to their children, the shrill shrieks of warning echoing down the street. Suddenly came a yelp of ''Goal!'' from a group of youths as their burst football was belted furiously against an end wall, as if ferocity alone could fashion their future. Or give them hope. Likewise, on another wall, the graffiti, grafting girl to boy, forever. Fiction like. The happy hours I had spent in Mr Hobbs's house, and afterwards the going home with my father, back across the river - time had moved on - the house had gone. There was a gap. Hesitating with age, the yellowing street lights flickered and came to life, with their deceptively comforting glow. Time to turn and make my way back across the river. Deal with another nagging question. Or just deal.
Archived comments for The Street
TheBigBadG on 08-03-2013
The Street
Going back is a bit like fiction isn't it. You've got to take something that you should know intimately and reconcile it with this strange an unwelcoming place that has replaced it. It always makes me wonder if I'm being nostalgic or if things really do get worse. What worries me most is that it's a sign of growing older, not being able to adapt and absorb these new things automatically.

Musings aside though, I very much enjoyed this. Some great imagery and phrases and the journey through the city feels very real and personal. These unknown people grafted by graffiti, as permanently bound as the walls that hold them, the same walls that appear to have escaped the developers so far. Kids full of fury, a shifting world and suspicion - as a city dweller a lot of this rings true. I prefer to try and be more optimistic of a day myself, but I've taken journeys like this, that's for sure.

George

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, George. Pleased it struck a chord with you. Gerald

Mikeverdi on 08-03-2013
The Street
For me this was brilliant, I was along for the ride, those places are real to me; it\'s where my mother grew up. I haven't been back since the sixties but I can still remember the smell and sense of decaying hope. Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Mike, a rare piece of prose from me. I'll be going back soon for my brother-in-law's sixtieth. y train, I think, this time. Gerald

franciman on 08-03-2013
The Street
Gerald, this took me to a place I would rather not be, even in prose. It makes me want to beat my collar to get rid of the dust, the smell of decay. A rolling journey this, the current washing me against graphic lyrical flights of prose.
Lots of wistfulness in the narration; even a sense that the Second World War gave an allure to the place, a heightened sense of life.
I was engrossed and it has to be one of my favourites.
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Jim, not like France is it? I haven't done much prose - I wrote this for some Year 8 students in 2008 to give them an idea how to write a descriptive piece about a street. It was to follow up a play they'd been reading set in Liverpool.

cooky on 09-03-2013
The Street
Top write my friend. It oozed the atmosphere of life. Every line counts which is the mark of top writing. Pleasure to read

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and liking. One of only four pieces of prose - I feel encouraged to write some more. Thanks again, cooky. Gerald

JD on 14-04-2013
The Street
Very well written. I really enjoyed this story. Thanks for sharing it with us. 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting. Glad you liked it.


Disused Quarry (posted on: 25-02-13)
DANGER - KEEP OUT

It was when the tadpoles got too old for the sweet-jar that he went to the quarry, performed the necessary ceremony, and first felt paternal. The water rippled baptismally, as they submerged, shaking off tails in convoys of adulthood. Approving, the sun patted his head, as he turned, on reconnaissance, leading the way up the cliff. And there was the crane! Abandoned, gun-barrel drooping, its last dog-fight acted out on a boy's battle-field. The levers what a sorry crew they made, the way Monty's men had to leave them, limb-stiff, to the heat and flies: the engine still smelled of heavy action, dripped imagined suffering, retribution . Suddenly, the Sunday-school sensation was there, squatting in the reeds of his mind, its frog-eyed surveillance, at tongue's length, like a sniper ready to pick him off if he didn't keep low, in hand-to-hand retreat.

Archived comments for Disused Quarry
deadpoet on 25-02-2013
Disused Quarry
I like this very much

Author's Reply:
One of my poems from a writing spell about 20-25 years ago. So pleased you liked it. Thanks for reading and for your rate, deadpoet.

Mikeverdi on 25-02-2013
Disused Quarry
Just Terrific! Mike

Author's Reply:
Many thanks, Mike. Glad you liked it!

Kat on 26-02-2013
Disused Quarry
Very much to admire in this fine poem.

Kat

Author's Reply:
Thank you for reading and commenting, Kat.

Texasgreg on 28-02-2013
Disused Quarry
Great piece on boys and their penchant for trespass...forsaking all warnings, we must see why, eh?

Greg 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thanks, for reading and commenting,Texasgreg. This really was me....many, many yeras ago!

MerleNoir on 01-03-2013
Disused Quarry
Just superb Nemo!!

Author's Reply:
Thank you for readingand commenting on this old poem of mine, merlenoir.


Play Centre (posted on: 04-02-13)
In Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children

His mother had done her best to keep his mind on the painting they'd started together, but his pallid nostrils twitched, lifted up, sensed something in the air, or on my face. Scuttling through a gap in the giggling fence of other children huddled round the hutch, he found it easy to slip the catch, and run, his head hidden by the long tall grass, which she had kept on saying should be green, to the rabbit-hole, where he'd not be caught. Clawing down the apple-crumble tunnel, he wasn't sorry he'd screamed this morning as she tried to cut his sharp bunny-nails. The burrow had that nest-of-arms smell like when she was warm-straw in her happy-dress. No, he didn't envy Ben's thick coat of fur: it was good for burying your face in and for drying your cheeks while your fingers gurgled in the soft-water of his floppy ears, till the owl-ringed weariness floated from your eyes, gliding down into Ben's dark vigil of honesty: animal truth that wouldn't blink or look away, a sky-darkness you could sleep in now, soft-centred like the kangaroo-pocket your bedroom used to be. 'Come on, darling.' He could see his Daddy's twinkling stars much more clearly now, 'Come on, love,' all around him, bright, like all the nicest smiles he'd ever known. 'l want to stay with Ben.' 'It's time to go, Daddy will look after your painting.' His mother lifted him up, stroked his hairless head. 'The nice doctor's waiting, Ben will still be here next time.' And another time . But this time, going home, clawing up the apple-crumble tunnel into the bright starry night outside, we blinked, looked away, and gently cried.

Archived comments for Play Centre
Romany on 04-02-2013
Playcentre
This is heart breaking. Gently written.

Romany.

Author's Reply:
Thank you for your appreciative comment. The poem was written for the children I saw being treated for cancer in the eighties. My daughter was one - to survive, I'm pleased to say.

karen123 on 05-02-2013
Play Centre
This gave me goosebumps. I remember when my son was 11 days old and had lost too much weight he was taken into hospital and they had to give him a blood test. That one 'simple' thing had me in a crumpled heap of tears and wanting to protect him from what they were doing. I have no idea how a parent copes with such things as a child with cancer.
I am so glad to hear your daughter is well - as is my son

Author's Reply:
Thank you for your comment, karen123.

Mikeverdi on 05-02-2013
Play Centre
Hard to read without feeling guilty for not filling the tins we all walk by( and I have cancer) Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting, Mike.

Savvi on 06-02-2013
Play Centre
Very well written *drip* and very sad *blows nose* well done.

a sky-darkness you could sleep in now, soft-centred
like the kangaroo-pocket your bedroom used to be.

Love this, it so hits the spot.




Author's Reply:
Thank you for your comment, Savvi.

ChairmanWow on 06-02-2013
Play Centre
Evokes what no parent should have to go through. Very well done.

Author's Reply:
Thank you for reading this and for commenting, ChairmanWow. And for picking it as a favourite!

purplespirit on 07-02-2013
Play Centre
This made me shiver, such a sad story - one of thousands - such a heart ache for parents and such a brave little soul to simply pray for. Precious and thoughtful write, thank you. Purple

Author's Reply:
Not a cheerful poem, I know. Thank you for your appreciation, Purple.


Thinking in Words (posted on: 01-02-13)


When does this poem become a poem? Is it when these words explode in your mind, sending dust flying in all directions, creating gods and myths, and engraving space with sound, movement and colour; when sound is the music of the spheres, movement is careering through time, and colour is feeling alive with less than a second in expanding eternity for thinking in words?

Archived comments for Thinking in Words
butters on 01-02-2013
Thinking in Words
good question. good poem. personally, it begs an answer or three - and, for this reader, it needn't be anything so dramatic 🙂 a seed that's planted and starts to take root, a silent ripple across the psyche, a thought, an idea that equates to a quickly indrawn breath of pleasure or surprise . . . any of these can make a poem a poem as much as their larger brethren.

that said, i absolutely love this:

and colour is feeling alive
with less than a second

in expanding eternity
for thinking in words

Author's Reply:
Thank you for your comment, butters. Yes, of course. lots things make a poem become a poem.

stormwolf on 02-02-2013
Thinking in Words
Hi there Nemo
I got a bit thrown at the first line ;-(

When does a poem become a poem?

I think it would have been better to ask, when does a thought become a poem or when does a scene / vision / impression become a poem? Surely if a poem is a poem, it already IS a poem?
OK now I am all confused and will have to lie down in a darkened room 😉

Really liked the rest
Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thank you for your comment, Alison. The point of the question is to make the reader think about what makes a piece of writing BECOME a poem - it isn't perforce a poem simply because the writer says it is or because of the way it is set out. Glad you liked the rest.

ValDohren on 03-02-2013
Thinking in Words
I suppose there are as many explanations of when a poem becomes a poem as there are people who read them - its subjective, and what is true for one isn't necessarily true for another. I think this write qualifies.

Val

Author's Reply:
I like to think a poem becomes a poem when 'words explode in the mind.' That's what a good poem does for me. Thanks, ValDhoren.


Just a note to say ... (posted on: 28-01-13)


We collected these objets d'art as an investment, a certain elemental evening when the sky was a Fighting Temeraire - imagine it all ablaze and sinking into the sea, with a slow, incandescent hiss. St. Ives blinked in the wind with eyes like stars, and saw this picture, but missed, I think, the details - the lone pair of looters we made, dipping and pecking like seagulls, at the tide's trailing hem. Like louis d'or - these shells, re-perfections of chaos, we pocketed them exactly the way you children did - and came running up to show us, with the Risen Venus glistening in your eyes. It must have been the brittleness of the moment - my suddenly remarking the sea would soon be tall, like a giant to Jack over our heads. And, half a mile out from the shore, we tried to laugh off the threat, gruff and rowdy as it would be, bobbing and weaving around us like a drunken day-tripper stumbling home, looking for a fight to land the killer blow. Still, we were not churned and turned like shells to specks of dust, but it was good being scared, like being unbearably happy with ourselves on a big dipper and not yet divided in death. We knew, of course, you'd be wreathed in smiles, coming to clear the house - you'd find these shells on my desk and handle them with hushed reverence - marvelling at these treasures sculptured in Atlantis.

Archived comments for Just a note to say ...
Nomenklatura on 28-01-2013
Just a note to say ...
Delicious, a poem to re-read and savour. 'These treasures sculpted in Atlantis': sumptuous.

Author's Reply:
What a lovely comment! Thank you, Nomenklatura.

bo_duke99 on 28-01-2013
Just a note to say ...
some mischief (end/start stanza 1/2) and a lot of talent

Author's Reply:
Thanks for your comments on both poems - 'some mischief' ( ' .../Hiss.' ) by me or you for pointing it out?

Mikeverdi on 28-01-2013
Just a note to say ...
Tremendous writing again from you, and a well earned second Nib! Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks again. Mike. This poem lay dormant and unfinished in my loft for about 15 years. I finished it off 3 years ago. Helps to leave poems marinating, I think.

stormwolf on 28-01-2013
Just a note to say ...
Interesting layout.
And sinking into the sea, with a slow, incandescent

Hiss.
I don't know why exactly but putting that word on the next stanza sort of irked 😉
I guess we all have our own ways of doing things.
Welcome to UKA and congrats on the nib.

Alison x


Author's Reply:
Thank you for comment, stormwolf, will think about 'hiss.'

Savvi on 29-01-2013
Just a note to say ...
Such a gentle and powerful poem, I he read and re-read and it keeps getting better. Welcome and thank you. Savvi

I stumbled on the hiss too

Author's Reply:
Thank you for your appreciative words - I'm experimenting with moving the 'hiss.'

franciman on 30-01-2013
Just a note to say ...
Welcome to UKA. Your's is going to be a hard act to follow.
I wanted to wrap myself in this piece. There is a lot of pleasure to be had in the almost tactile words. They slide like your grains of sand, through the fingers. I agree with the misgivings over the split lines. Because it is so sensuous a read, such small things snag at the reader imho.
I will read this many more times without fear of disappointment.
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Thank you for your appreciative comment, very encouraging, franciman.

Bozzz on 30-01-2013
Just a note to say ...
To me this is a beautifully written short prose essay. No rhythm, no scan, but sumptuous sentences fit for the mind to drown in. Recategorise and I'd give it 10 !

Author's Reply:
Thank you for the appreciative comments you have made about my poem, Bozzz.

butters on 30-01-2013
Just a note to say ...
oh! just found this. it's quite beautiful.

delicate sound-linking right the way through, tying the gorgeous string of images together like pearls, glistening with soft 'i's, 'l's and 's'-sounds.

skillfully crafted, stunningly visual. makes me a happy reader.

Author's Reply:
Very pleased you enjoyed it - thank you for your appreciative comment, butters.

amman on 31-01-2013
Just a note to say ...
Terrific images in this beautifully crafted poem. i don't have a problem with splitting this into stanzas. Welcome.
Regards.

Author's Reply:
Thank you for reading my poem, amman. I'm pleased you liked it.

stormwolf on 31-01-2013
Just a note to say ...
Hi Nemo, I see you have changed the 'hiss' lol and it really does read SO much better. Little things like that can stand out and make it look like the writer is being a bit 'clever' but as I say, that is just my opinion but why detract from the rest of the work by one little thing.
Super!

Author's Reply:
Thank you, stormwolf.


Conference (posted on: 25-01-13)
An aspect of medical training

They gave us statistics in the morning, overhead transparencies, topographies of adolescent cancer. Landmarks of suffering were mere microdots on a map; graphs ascended survival, (mortality shaded out), scaled down to so few per fall-out of reprieve, so few, when our wards contained so many, brothers, sisters, not much younger than ourselves. Mortality glared round the door after lunch, brushed past us to the platform, sat down amongst the flowers and curtains. A chaplain stood up to speak, outside a song thrush warbled, led us back to our wards, dimming the lights, to the Botticelli girl who collected china cats, (fauve-eyed repositories of sorrow for a bedroom shrine); or to the glittering boy, who'd still win, (if he logged it all in a diary they'd find); to beds we should sit on, waiting for sleep not to come, a hug the slightest touch away. The bird went quiet, filling the hall with silence. The chaplain sat down. Moving out of the curtains, a mother and father spoke, erected before us a house of hope for a child: windows to walk past without a shudder, sills for china cats, a garden for a warbling bird. The glare had softened to a primrose smile. We had taken no notes, but our training was complete.

Archived comments for Conference
amman on 25-01-2013
Conference
Hello Nemo. This is very sad and the language eloquently expresses that sadness. Very impressive. Not sure about 'waiting for sleep not to come', seems a little awkward.

Welcome to UKA.



Author's Reply:

Nomenklatura on 25-01-2013
Conference
Splendid poem, wistful and sad with a really powerful ending.

Author's Reply:

ValDohren on 25-01-2013
Conference
Very sad, but very well expressed.

Author's Reply:
Thank you for your appreciative comment. Nemo.

Andrea on 25-01-2013
Conference
Marvellous début, Nemo - welcome to UKA!

Author's Reply:
Thank you for liking my poem!

Savvi on 26-01-2013
Conference
straight out of the blocks, starting pistol still smoking, welcome nemo, I love the way his moved in and out of the ward brushing into images as we were carried. Thanks S

Author's Reply:
I like what you've said about my poem, Savvi.

ChairmanWow on 26-01-2013
Conference
Nemo,
Yes, that is the only way our training will be complete... Fine debut.

Author's Reply:
Thank you for liking my poem. Nemo.

stormwolf on 26-01-2013
Conference
Welcome to UKA
A very sombre thought provoking piece alright.
Alison x

PS I agree with Amman about that line..stood out for me too.

Author's Reply:

Kat on 26-01-2013
Conference
Wonderful insightful writing, with great control of metre, and so very wise. A poem that should preface health care textbooks.

? a typo:

'...past us to the platform' - ? should be 'passed'

Welcome to UKA!

Kat

Author's Reply:
Thanks for your comment. It can't be 'passed' because the verb is 'brushed past' but thanks for being vigilant!

Kat on 26-01-2013
Conference
Oh yes, I see that now... I was reading as brush passed (for some reason, like a broom), making up my own poem in my head it would seem.

And I'm not so much vigilant as 'the girl can't help it', just my nature when I think something doesn't scan right or is perhaps a typo.

Thanks for pointing out my error... I *am* that obsessive when in search of what's good and right, as in the case of your poem.

It proved a helpful trait when I was a clinical services manager in a psychiatric hospital.

Cheers

Kat

Author's Reply:
No problem.

Mikeverdi on 26-01-2013
Conference
Bet your glad you came now!! Excellent writing and well worth the Nib. Welcome to UKA.

Author's Reply:

Bozzz on 26-01-2013
Conference
Statistics are secular, QED - care is religion? I don't paint it that way, but your powerful poem is useful training for patients too....To see and know the worst and yet be able to smile and say "Well how are you this beautiful morning"? is torture for both, but that's the lesson.. Bozzz

Author's Reply:
Thanks for your comment. The chaplin just happened to be there - I don't think that was statement that it is only religion which provides care, if I've understood you properly.

Texasgreg on 27-01-2013
Conference
Aye! Can only echo. Wonderful view and well written...

Greg 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thank you for your comment. Will post two more tomorrow. Bye Texasgreg.

butters on 30-01-2013
Conference
nominated.

hope to find time to return to this, but fine-calibre writing. welcome to the site.

so as not to appear overly gushy when reading your stuff in future, i may refrain from rating but will try to leave pertinent comments.

Author's Reply:
Thank you for your comment.