Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Bordeaux Bay by Guernsey-based artist Tony Taylor

Friday, 7 May 2021

INVISIBLE IS VISIBLE

The poem Invisible appears in this month’s edition of Snakeskin, a literary webzine founded in 1995 and still going strong: an impressive feat in an environment where lit-mags struggle to survive beyond issues two or three. As always, I’m proud to have my work featured there. You can read the other excellent poems in the May edition by clicking on the Snakeskin link in My Blog List below right.













INVISIBLE


In the den, he hunkers down, holds his breath,

makes himself invisible.


Oblivious, the parkies stand six feet away 

and speak in angry tones:

a broken pane, some daffodils beheaded.


He hears them toss his name 

back and forth between them

and holds his breath to make himself invisible.


It is summer. He is eight years old. 


He lies beneath white sheets and tries to breathe.

He is very small: not eight years old but eighty. 

The room is full of snow. 


Light spills through a high window like radiance unfolding.

He hears voices rise and fall and makes himself invisible. 


The voices drift.  

He hears them toss his name 

back and forth between them

and tries to breathe.


What matter now, the broken pane, those headless daffodils?

Will summer come again?


He makes himself invisible.

It is easy now

with no more breath to hold.



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Friday, 30 April 2021

CANDY CRUSH

Candy Darling (1944 – 1974) was an American transgender actress. She starred in Andy Warhol's films Flesh (1968) and Women in Revolt (1971), and was a muse of the protopunk band The Velvet Underground.




















CANDY DARLING


When Candy’s sweet feet hit the street

men turn their heads and women too.

Her glance intensifies the heat,

hair platinum and eyes of blue.

A treat, she doesn’t miss a beat,

red lips, red nails, fleet, neat, petite.


In her neat flat, reality

kicks in: the blonde wig and the rest

get hung up. Sexuality

can be a paradox at best.

Born with a boy’s mentality,

what kind of girl can Candy be?


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Friday, 23 April 2021

THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE

"One good thing about music, when it hits, you feel no pain"  Bob Marley.

The first time I heard Reggae music I thought it wonderfully life-enhancing: a joyous, feelgood rhythm that seemed to bring sunshine into even the dullest day.

For a few years, I immersed myself in its warm, pulsating glow.
Tracks by Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, Toots Hibbert, Bob Marley, Burning Spear and the incomparable Gregory Isaacs, played on my portable cassette machine when I went training in the Craigantlet hills, back in the days when long-distance running was an integral part of my life.

Click here to listen to Bob Marley's One Love then enjoy the short story that follows.    



ONE LOVE


One love! One heart! Let’s get together and feel all right ... 
Shel mimed Bob Marley’s words to the musical ringtone of  her fiancee’s mobile as the distinctive jingle sounded and Dave began jabbering to his mate about arrangements for the away-match that weekend. 
One love!  Shel smiled and thought about the boys she’d known before. She’d thought herself in love with some of them but not like this, not like it was with Dave: one love, one love forever.
They’d been together three years: a passionate affair that now had reached the mellow stage. Their lovemaking, wild and reckless in the beginning, had become a familiar, twice-weekly ritual. Shel was content, but sometimes thought wistfully of those raunchy sessions up on Mortlake Hill in the old ruined barn. It was blissful up there, high above the town, their own private Eden, where the air was crisp and invigorating, far from people and prying eyes. God, they’d made the earth move, she and Dave, back then.
Saturday came, she packed his sandwiches, promised to have his favourite supper ready when he got home. He was meeting his mate, Del, at the station.
Three o’clock, Shel turned on the radio: the match was live. She thought of him, just another anonymous face in the crowd, but special to her, so special. One love!
Just thinking about Dave made her tingle. Bored, and on impulse, she decided to hike up Mortlake Hill to get some air: perhaps recapture the magic that seemed somehow missing from their life together nowadays.
The afternoon was warm and Shel, dressed in fleece and jeans, set off up the Hill. Approaching its summit, she felt exhilarated and full of energy. As she passed the ruins of the old barn, she glimpsed movement: a figure, no two figures, half-clothed, darted out of sight behind a stone facade.
Shel smiled. Young lovers in our old love-nest, she thought. Bet I know what they’ve been up to, and who can blame them: it’s the perfect spot for a bit of the old al fresco. I’ll tell Dave: get him hot and sexy for tonight.
Snatching out her smartphone, Shel called Dave’s number.
After a moment’s wait, a familiar ringtone sounded in the ruined barn. 
One love! One heart! Let’s get together and feel all right .... 

Saturday, 17 April 2021

ON DEAF EARS

This is not a new poem but one rewritten several times over the last decade. Do I now regard it as finished? I hardly dare say. Some might argue that no poem is ever properly finished because there’s always some small thing, a word or phrase, to add, to change or take away.











DEAF


Around my father’s neck,

against his tweedy waistcoat,

a battered leather box was strung

on straps above his broad watch-chain,

its perforated, bruised, brown face

marked it as cousin to the gas-mask, ghastly grim,      

that hung in a cobwebbed cupboard

beneath the stairs.


I had to stand tiptoe, speak to it slowly, 

my childish words, enunciated carefully, 

humming through cable 

that climbed, bindweed thin, to my father’s distant ear.

All innocence, I thought the words went in 

and there remained, 

living and breathing like mice inside that perforated box.


Oak-tall he seemed, my father,

oak-solid in his deafness

and, as I grew up, sapling-straight, to match his height. 

a silence swirled around us like a fog.


Each year he pencil-marked

our new height on the kitchen wall,

while hearing-aids developed too:

no more the leather box 

resting, marsupial, on his faded cardigan: 

now they hid like weevils

in spectacles with arms as thick as Parker pens.

Discreet, the maker claimed. 


A handicap, invisible, remains a handicap

and no advance in science, so it seemed, 

could dissipate the tortuous confusion 

when two or more young voices vied 

for his attention. 


Though patriarchal, 

Protestant, Old Testament-severe,

he was no soapbox orator 

yet often spoke at length

but seldom seemed to hear, 

while I, 

the eldest son, rebellious, estranged,

loved him, feared him,

but could not speak my heart to him.


Time, as it turns, obliterates

the pencil-marks of memory.

Moss gathers on my father’s grave

and yellowed album-photos fade.

I feel regret’s acidic burn

and yearn for that old perforated box,

to stand tiptoe and gently speak

the loving words I should have said,

the words of love he might have heard.



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Sunday, 11 April 2021

GETTING IT WRITE

The eminent poet, Robert Graves, famously claimed that that there's no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting. I tend to agree. This poem is a rewritten version of one that appeared several years ago in A Guernsey Double, co-written with fellow writer, Peter Kenny.

















PARISH FUNERAL


The heart beats now a mourning drum

behind the coffin held aloft.

Head bowed, she steps, back ramrod-straight,

blue light, through stained-glass, falling soft,

from the black car beyond the gate

into the congregation’s hum.


Grief carves a beauty in her face   

or highlights what was there before,

unrecognised. She seems to shine,

to have become not less but more,

while others’ faces, at this shrine

to gracefulness, lack any grace.


Light throws long shadows on the wall

as one by one the cars depart.

We gather our composure, rise.

She stands a little way apart,

speaks with the priest, says her goodbyes.

Outside, soft rain begins to fall.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

A RUDE AWAKENING

My neighbours recently removed a large conifer that bordered our garden. It was a veritable Grand Hotel for the birdlife in the area and a drop-in place for a fascinating variety of species. 

Since its removal, most of these welcome visitors have vanished and, along with them, the privacy we formerly enjoyed in our small, overcrowded parish. 

It’s going to feel different outdoors during the coming summer and we’re already devising plans for trellis and climbers to help claw back some of the seclusion we've lost. 

The sadness is that, had they spoken to us of their plans, we could have reached a compromise arrangement with them and perhaps had the tree reduced in height rather than simply killed off. 

Still, it was their land and, ultimately, their choice as to whether to take us into consideration when planning and executing this. The first we knew was the early morning sound of the chainsaws.














THE TREE


The tree the chainsaw felled today

was host to birds, a home to those

that shunned the nesting box or bush.        

They will adapt, no doubt, they may

seek a new billet, I suppose,

but we will miss them, blackbird, thrush.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

BAYWATCH

The bay at Bordeaux is ever-changing: tide arrives, tide departs and a congregation of seabirds gather on the shore. 

I never tire of this particular point on Guernsey’s coastline with its view of the smaller islands of the Bailiwick and the granite sea-wall that protects us from the sea’s hunger.

















APPROACHING FOG


Sea-facing, 

from a wooden bench

I gaze out over Bordeaux Bay to where the smaller islands lie

beyond the swaying fishing boats, 

so small yet strong and safely moored, 

the guardian rocks and jetty where I sometimes walk to take the air

but as I sit, a damp sea mist comes sailing in: 

a massive craft

such as the innocents, who stood knee-deep to watch invaders come,

perceived but could not understand.

It fills me with unfathomable fear. 

I watch as Herm and Jethou disappear.