Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Bordeaux Bay by Guernsey-based artist Tony Taylor

Friday, 5 June 2020

WHAT ROUGH BEAST ...

Issue 50 of Lighten Up Online, a webzine that specialises in humorous verse, featured two of my poems this month: The Vegan Lion and the poem you'll find below which was submitted to LUPO's competition on the theme of 'Beastly Exchanges'.
Light verse is not greatly respected in literary circles but poetry, like Heaven, is a house with many mansions so there's always space to be found for a skittish sonnet or hilarious haiku.  
My ten-line poem rhymes outwards from the two central lines.


















SHE DIDN’T UDDER A WORD …

Some friendly overtures fall flat.
How now brown cow! I called out loud
and rapped the gate but was ignored. 
How now! Again, with dulcet tone,
I importuned the brindled beast,
expecting, well, a moo at least
but she was on her moo-bile phone,
an i-phone zombie in the sward,
so I cleared off, expression cowed,
denied the chance of bovine chat.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

PATIENCE

Looking back, I had a sometimes vexed relationship with my father as sons often do, I suppose. 
He was, in many ways, an introverted man, largely because of his hearing loss, and one of the strongest images that I have of him, from my childhood, is of a stern figure bent over the family Bible, silent and pensive, completely oblivious of his surroundings.  


















THE FISHERMAN

My father, 
grey as a heron, thin
as a wafer, 
the Good Book spread before him 
like a silver pool
would sit for hours
unmoving, silently still,
his bald head bowed, 
one finger poised
as though to spear a mystery.

Oh my dear father,
what beguiled you there? 
What held you 
rapt
while, slowly, slowly, 
ticked the clock?

What strange fish lay, 
unmoving, deep
within those well-thumbed pages?


Thursday, 21 May 2020

NO HIDING PLACE

Do we ever lose the terrors of childhood? The older I become, the more I doubt it.
This short poem was written during a heatwave in France in the late summer of 2019 following a visit to a village church to escape the oppressive heat.




















NO SANCTUARY


Avoiding forty-two degrees,
I slip inside and feel the chill
and smell the old familiar reek
of cassocks and of deep unease.
I sit, almost against my will.
Is this the sanctuary I seek,
here where my childhood fears reside:
eternal punishment for sin,
and fire far greater than the sun?
I rise and hurry back outside,
feel noonday sun scorch my pale skin,
then stride away, tempted to run.
Behind me, from a Cross, inside,
His face stares down, the thrice-denied.


Sunday, 17 May 2020

LOCKDOWN BLUES

Guernsey is in the process of moving out of lockdown into phased recovery but, whilst this will be welcome news to many, my own feeling is something approaching sadness that the the sense of tranquility, a consequence of an enforced slowing down of the pace of daily life, may be lost forever.
















LOCKDOWN ENDS

White jet-trails spoil the childhood-perfect sky
and those vague trails of vapour break the spell
that held us for a while, suspended, safe,
and drag me from my sanctuary shell.
Now, once again, I heed the traffic noise,
commuters vying for some meagre space
in tailback queues. 
The tranquil days have gone,
the lockdown days, those precious days of grace.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

ROCK & SOUL

One day in early autumn 2017, whilst investigating rock-pools near the slipway at Bordeaux, it occurred to me that these small reservoirs of trapped sea-water may be an apt metaphor for the human soul. 
Created by tide, they exist only till tide’s return, when their isolation is ended and each is reabsorbed into the great ocean.

















ROCK-POOLS

The tide advances then retreats:
retreating, it leaves rock-pools full
of teeming sea-life, micro-worlds,
like widely scattered ocean-seeds.
Our lives take place within such spheres,
small rock-pool lives, crabbed histories.
That interval between the tides
is space for birth, existence, death,
played out, in time, as life must be
within each germinating seed,
a constant cycle, vibrant, brief,
with latitude for grief and joy.
Swift, then, the sure-returning wave,
that tireless harvester of souls,
reclaims the tide-crop that it sowed.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

LIBERTY

Today the Bailiwick of Guernsey will celebrate the 75th Anniversary of its liberation from German occupation during the Second World War.
This year’s festivities, however, will be very different from previous ones as the island remains in lockdown due to coronavirus.
There will be no communal events, parades or street parties but, instead, a socially-distanced, quiet remembrance of challenging times overcome.
On Liberation Day our thoughts turn to those who endured the Occupation of the islands and to the many children who were evacuated to the UK shortly before the enemy invaded. 
Less often, we remember those who failed to survive the dreadful years of fear, hunger and oppression.
They are the subject of today’s Liberation Day poem.  













THE NINTH OF MAY  

We join hands to celebrate the Ninth of May
as our forefathers did on Liberation Day
when, all those years ago, the foe, in disarray,
stood hang-dog in their uniforms of leaden grey.

Not all our island population, sad to say,
survived those dreadful years for some fell prey
to hunger or disease and passed away. 

Let us, with pride, remember them today, for they,
so bravely, nearly made it all the way
to Guernsey’s Liberation Day, the Ninth of May.
.

Saturday, 2 May 2020

HELL FOR LEATHER

Here's a piece of Flash Fiction I wrote a couple of years ago and presented at a library reading last year. 
The germ of the tale came to me during a visit to Belfast when I purchased a leather jacket from a retro shop in the city. Waiting at the airport a few days later, the rest of the story suddenly fell into place.
No spoilers here. You'll have to read it to work out the link. 


THE BIG GUY

Phil fell for the coat the moment he saw it. Luxurious chestnut leather in a style that could only be Italian: Armani perhaps, maybe Gucci. And extra-large, Phil’s own size. He absolutely had to have it.
It hung on a retro-style coat stand beside the maitre-d’s desk right there beside his own battered topcoat.
Phil reached out to stroke the soft leather and knew he was in love. 
The bill had been paid, cash as always, and the desk was unattended. It was his last night in Bangkok. On impulse, he grabbed the leather coat, slipped it on and headed for the restaurant’s revolving doors.
Outside, the oriental night was a kaleidoscope of neon: a frantic cacophony of noise and hustle. Phil hailed a passing taxi and ordered the driver to take him to the airport. 
Phil levered his bulky frame into the rear seat of the Toyota and replayed the events of the last three weeks: a crazy roller-coaster of wins and losses, but mostly wins and lucrative ones at that.
A natural-born scammer, Phil saw other people’s money as his for the taking and if that left them penniless, well, tough shit, no one said that life was fair.
That elderly couple he’d met in the bar of the St Regis: English, like himself, but alien as Martians. They’d taken to him right away: clearly saw him as a local character, a big guy, full of smiles and ex-pat bonhomie. They were old-school, superior, patronising and greedy: the marks were always greedy when you got down to it. And their greed was the key, that magic key to unlock their wallets, bank accounts, the lot. 
He’d scored on that one and no mistake. They’d be lucky, when they discovered just how thoroughly he’d cleaned them out, if they could even afford a weekend in Skegness.
At Suvarnabhumi airport, Phil checked his ticket and admired his profile in a washroom mirror. The richness of the leather looked fabulous and the coat fitted him perfectly. Its former owner must have been a big guy too, broad across the shoulders. It was in great condition, so the punter must have taken care of his clothes. The only flaw was a small tear in the lining of the left side pocket, but that could be sorted when he got back to London.  
Checking his watch, Phil, joined the queue at Security. With only a laptop as luggage, he knew he’d be through in no time. 
Security was visibly high with groups of Thai military stationed at every turn and uniformed police working the concourse and seating areas with sniffer-dogs. 
Slinging his laptop and leather into a waiting tray, Phil, stepped through the metal-detector arch and collected his possessions when they’d passed through the scanner.
He was coming out of Duty Free when two Thai policemen approached him with a black Labrador. Phil relaxed and stood still while one of them walked the animal around him. When the dog abruptly sat down, he was nonplussed. He never touched drugs and certainly wasn’t a terrorist, so what what the hell was this about?
Twenty minutes later, Phil knew the answer. Two small sachets of pure heroin had been retrieved from the lining of the leather coat. They had evidently slipped through a tear in the lining of the left pocket. 
Phil was a big guy and the shiny Thai handcuffs felt uncomfortably tight.