Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Bordeaux Bay by Guernsey-based artist Tony Taylor

Thursday, 21 March 2019

TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF

Guernsey's spring seems already well advanced, with daffodils and primroses abundant in every lane. Soon the trees will be in leaf. 

 



 






 
SPRING

Green mariners, young leaves soft as skin,
are gathering before a tall tree’s mast.


A bright, fresh crew,
they have a season’s voyage ahead
to learn the ropes.


They will return, old salts:
brown-parchment-skinned,
rum-soaked,
no wiser than before.

Friday, 15 March 2019

BENEATH THE MASK

In today's fast-paced world, there's a temptation to take others at face value, swiftly categorise then dismiss them, rarely taking time to learn their history or background. 



















REFUGEE

Overhead lights, bright in a white room;
a masked regiment around me
at my command.
In timeless hush, I work:
my steady hand and shining blade
make neat incisions, cut out
tumours, like blind, destructive moles.
It’s done. Eyes, above masks, are joyful.
The patient lives.

That was before...

Today, I wear a white coat in a bright room.
Around me, pale unmasked faces,
that have not witnessed war,
ignore my requests.
In harsh, obliterating noise, I work
steadily with shining blade.
My practiced hand
cuts pizzas into segments
that do not bleed.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

CORNISH CREAM

I'm an admirer of the work of Cornwall's greatest poet, the late Charles Causley, and have recently finished reading an excellent biography about him by Laurence Green.
When Jane and I spent several weeks in Cornwall last year, we visited the town of Launceston, where Causley was born, and the cemetery where he is buried.
I wrote this poem, Blackberries, having just returned one morning from walking a friend's dog on the coastal path above Port Isaac.

 












BLACKBERRIES                                        

Carrying home, in cupped hands,
a clutch of blackberries, freshly picked,
I marvel at the morning light,
high-circling gulls,
the puzzled stares of cattle at a gate.

Beneath a Causley-Cornish sky
I struggle to complete this poem
and wonder would that placid man
(schoolmaster, poet, balladeer)
have made allowances, ignored
blackberry stains like ink-blots on
my hapless, hopeless, homework page
and, with a not unkindly look,

have handed back my jotting book?

Saturday, 2 March 2019

ROVER'S RETURN

Here's a lighthearted, short story for the #Me Too era.


KARMA


When he was born, Maurice’s worst fears were realised. Reincarnation wasn’t a myth after all. 
Maurice had been reincarnated. As a dog.
It wasn’t bad at first. Being a puppy was a heady tumble of warmth, fun and sweet milk.   But all that was rudely whipped away. An elderly woman bought him and started imposing RULES. 
Maurice had to wee on newspaper. He liked that. It was the Guardian not the Telegraph, Maurice’s newspaper of choice in his former life. 
When he forgot and wee-d on rugs and carpets, the woman shrieked like a banshee and chased Maurice, now renamed Boo-Boo, round the kitchen.

Servility was not to Boo-Boo’s liking. When he’d been Maurice, people had cowered at his feet.
An alpha-male, he’d been a swaggering bully, intoxicated by power. He’d made enemies: men he’d destroyed; women he’d crushed.
From youth until horny old age, Maurice had taken what he wanted and damn the consequences. He’d always had his way with women, whether they liked it or not.
He remembered young Jill Fowler, barely eighteen yet annoyingly resistant.
He’d had to force the little bitch but he was sure she’d enjoyed it in the end.
I bloody well hope so, thought Maurice, she was, after all, the very last one.
The next morning he’d strolled onto the golf course and Bang! 

Massive bloody coronary.  End of story.
Except it wasn’t.
Here he was again: reborn as Boo-Boo and something odd was happening. His owner was handing him to a stranger in a white coat.
Don’t worry, Miss Fowler, the strange man was saying.
Castration’s quite straightforward. Boo-Boo will be right as rain in no time.

Monday, 25 February 2019

SPRINGING INTO LIFE

Jane and I have recently returned from Switzerland which was unseasonably warm, so we had the dual pleasure of sunshine and snow when we ventured out for forest walks. 
On arrival in Guernsey it was apparent that the island too is experiencing an early Spring, unarguably its most beautiful season. 





 







HIBERNATION



Hibernation over, they wake
hungry. Then swiftly re-engage
with animal things: so the cycle
begins again. We understand that.

Is it fanciful to wonder
if they dream? Or is their slumber
incomprehensible, like death,
devoid of sense of anything?

Thursday, 21 February 2019

A HARD RAIN

My previous post referred to the rain of arrows that contributed to the defeat in 1066, at Hastings, of Saxon leader, Harold.
Following that decisive battle, William of Normandy's seizure of the throne changed the course of England's history.
Today's poem refers to another significant historical moment which occurred at the end of World War Two.



ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND


We work our fields. The sun is bright.
The men sing a patriotic song.  We bend and straighten. Our backs ache.
We do not curse: we are polite and strong.  To work is to belong.
We toil for the Emperor’s sake.

Old Haruki points overhead: a crane is flying from the north.  Its languid wings sweep like brushstrokes. Cranes are good fortune, it is said.

We resume plowing, back and forth, joyfully, singing, sharing jokes.

I dream of fiery rice wine, ice then flame in my throat; the slow walk homeward.
We are a happy crowd.
Comradeship, sacred brotherhood, binds us together as we think of our great nation and sing loud.


I do not hear the Yankee plane
but shudder as a mushroom cloud despoils the picture-perfect sky.

Nearby Hiroshima,
domain of a nobility most proud,
is laid to waste.

Prostrate, we lie, while airborne poison, like a stain, begins to spread.
We tremble, cowed, claw at the earth, prepare to die.

Our tranquil world is turned to pain.
We burn to ash in fields we plowed.

One hundred
thousand people.

Why?

Friday, 15 February 2019

HEAVENLY INSPIRATION

The least likely things can inspire a poem and it was something commonplace that inspired this one.
I was out walking one showery October day and, finding myself some distance from home, realised to my dismay that the shower had changed character and become an icy downpour reinforced with sleet.
It put me in mind of the lethal hail of Norman arrows that Harold's army must have suffered on that momentous October day back in 1066. 
 











OCTOBER RAIN

An aspen in a Norman wood
supplied the shaft.
A craftsman’s patience
straightened, seasoned,
then perfected
something far removed from nature,
shaped the taper, sealed it,
gently carved the narrow nock.
Fingers, that might pluck a lute
on fair-days, set to fletching:
grey-goose feathers, 
resin gum,
fine thread of linen.
These would aid trajectory,
ensure fidelity of flight.
Lastly, a hand affixed with care
the arrowhead, the killing-piece,
fierce-furnace-forged
into a kind of bird-wing-shape
with pointed beak, as lethal as a battle-sword.

It would be one of many
that French archers took to English soil
to fly in flocks like starlings
over Hastings fields
and fall to earth like iron rain,
out of a grey October sky,
to pierce the fearful blue of Harold’s eye.