Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Watercolour by Tony Taylor http://www.paintingbreaksguernsey.com

Friday, 30 October 2015

GONE GIRL

Here's a macabre little poem for Halloween Night, taken from my Noir collection. I hope it proves suitably eerie.


DEAD LIFT

Dame gets in the cab. It’s midnight.
Gives me no address. Says: Just drive.
Can’t see her face but that’s okay.
To be polite, I say: Nice night.
No reply. She don’t seem alive.
Then I smell lilies and damp clay.

You know that feeling, when you wake
at night, like someone’s in the room.
You sense a loathsomeness descend.
I get that now. I try to brake
but the cab won’t stop. It’s a tomb,
ice cold. My hair stands up on end.




I hug the wheel, do as I’m told,
glance in the mirror, tempting fate.
Her face is skeletal and drawn,
her garments wear a layer of mold.
Turn here, she says. The graveyard gate
stands open. I look back, she’s gone.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

THE TOOTH IS OUT THERE

This being an Equal Opportunities blog, it seem only fair, since Vampires have already featured in the run-up to Halloween, that a different "Creature of the Night" has a chance to cause a chill (or perhaps a chuckle).
This particular flash fiction was first published last year at Halloween and he's back again.
I can't promise he won't turn up again next year. 



FOR LIFE, NOT JUST FOR CHRISTMAS

Gordon was too macho to go to the doctor when the dog bit him on that Halloween. No doctor, no tetanus.  Shit happens and the bite wasn’t serious.  
The dog itself didn’t seem particularly serious either: a big ungainly mutt with a daft expression, wearing the remnants of a suit and tie.  The clothing puzzled Gordon.  
At home he bathed the wound with disinfectant.  Neat puncture marks.  Nothing to worry about.  
Worry set in a week later when the moon was full.  Hair sprouted on Gordon’s hands; his teeth became fangs; a reckless hunger overwhelmed him. Stumbling outdoors in pyjamas, he bounded across the Common, driven by an instinct beyond his control.  
What’s happening to me? he howled.  And howled and howled and howled. 

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

GOING FOR THE JUGULAR

With Halloween just round the corner, let's get in the mood with a vampire poem.
Film buffs will note that the image below is not from F W Murnau's 1922 film, Nosferatu, but instead from the 1979 remake by Werner Herzog, starring the inimitable Klaus Kinski. 




SLEEPERS

From sleep of years or merely hours,
they waken, pale throats parchment dry,                      
possessed of hunger that devours.

Each an emerging butterfly, 
they crawl from caskets on all fours
to seek fresh prey, their blood-supply.

They enter, not deterred by doors,
like ghastly lovers, stealthy, sly,
to sup and plant their loathsome spores.



Watch F W Murnau's classic here.





Monday, 26 October 2015

RAISE A GLASS TO ...

... former Poet Laureate, Sir Andrew Motion, born 26 October 1952.


 A Glass of Wine - Andrew Motion

Exactly as the setting sun
clips the heel of the garden,
 
exactly as a pigeon 
roosting tries to sing
and ends up moaning,
 
exactly as the ping
of someone’s automatic carlock
dies into a flock
of tiny echo-aftershocks,
 
a shapely hand of cloud
emerges from the crowd
of airy nothings that the wind allowed
to tumble over us all day
and points the way
 
towards its own decay
but not before
a final sunlight-shudder pours
away across our garden-floor
 
so steadily, so slow
it shows you everything you need to know
about this glass I’m holding out to you,
 
its open eye
enough to bear the whole weight of the sky.


To listen to him read click here

Monday, 19 October 2015

WHAT LIES BENEATH

The recent news that the dramatic shrinkage of water levels at a reservoir in Southern Mexico have uncovered a 400-year old church built by Spanish colonisers prompted me to dig out this old poem featuring a submerged village.  
In Britain there are a number of valleys that have been commandeered to facilitate the creation of reservoirs and the abandoned habitations beneath their still waters intrigue me, as does the surreal image below.  


  
SUBMERGED

Beneath unclouded summer skies
a narrow, flooded valley lies.
Beneath the water surface, still,
deep, deep in silent, icy chill,
streets and houses stand arranged,
submerged but otherwise unchanged
since every house was occupied,
before the living village died.

Now doors stand open, currents creep
through gaping windows, fathoms deep;
like pennants waving, currents thread
through silent houses of the dead;
now empty rooms wait as they must,
where fishes move in shoals, like dust,
past walls and gables, mountain sheer,
and all is silent, silent here.

The light is most peculiar where
it fills this place, devoid of air.
Along one subterranean street,
where water-weed and granite meet,
a great fish moves, majestic, slow,
dispersing smaller fry below:
with silver fin, unloving eye
and scales like armour, passing by.

Its stately movement, in the deep,
recalls a human mind asleep:
a dreamer in that precious land
we love, but do not understand.


Click here for media report and images of the drowned church at Nezahualoyotl, Mexico.



Sunday, 18 October 2015

POETS' CORNER

Documentaries of two great Twentieth Century poets recently featured on BBC television and both films are still available on BBC iplayer.
For those unfamiliar with iplayer, it's a catch-up service easily accessed through a computer, enabling you to view selected BBC programmes for several weeks after they're first broadcast.
The life and works of former Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes and the enigmatic genius, Philip Larkin, were each examined with considerable insight in two very different documentaries.
Both provided a perceptive glimpse into the life and times that shaped the poet's work.
I recommend you seek them out while they're still available or simply click on one of the links below:-



http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06j7pkl/ted-hughes-stronger-than-death













http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06hhlyl/return-to-larkinland










It’s good to see that the BBC continues to champion verse and the work of poets in an age where so many other arts forms are vying for media attention. 
Here on the island, where our newspapers and magazines are notoriously unsupportive of poetry, BBC Radio Guernsey continues to provide a showcase for local poets, notably via their popular morning radio show hosted daily by Jenny Kendal-Tobias.  




 

Thursday, 15 October 2015

THE BURROWERS

The last vestiges of Indian Summer have vanished from the island and Guernsey is looking decidedly autumnal.
Our absence of woodland makes this an unspectacular season and a fitting prelude to the long grey winter that will shortly come creeping round the corner like an old bedraggled cat.
Time for Jane and I, warm-weather creatures that we are, to gather pullovers about us, turn on the central heating, burrow into a warm blanket of books and hibernate till spring.
Here’s a short poem to match the season.



 

END OF THE AFFAIR

The heating gets switched on;
sandals build nests in the boot-box;
the old straw hat sleeps, purring,
on the shelf where, overnight,
hats become cats;
jumpers sidle out
like pale young vampires in early dark.

The game’s up.


Summer’s finally cleared off somewhere else
as you always knew it would:
a false friend, 

a good lover gone bad.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

TALKING PICTURES

I've just returned from a visit to Belfast, a city which, when I left it twenty-something years ago, was enmeshed in strife and despondency.
Nowadays, post-Troubles, the area is a vibrant and dynamic hub with much to offer in terms of craft and culture.
My daughter and I visited the Cathedral Quarter and were greatly impressed by the many examples of public art, not least the amazing wall murals, one of which is pictured below.
(Lest there be any confusion, I'm the person sitting on the only three-dimensional object in the picture, a red bench.) 


Photo by Carolynn Forster 2015

Another wall in the same courtyard is adorned with images of a group of famous Ulstermen.
In a massive, if unlikely, gathering, C S Lewis rubs shoulders with Kenneth Branagh, Seamus Heaney, George Best, Van Morrison, Liam Neeson, John Hewitt, Rory McIlroy, Brian Friel and many others, while another gable -end depicts scenes from Belfast Shipyard where the world famous liner Titanic was built.
I particularly liked one corner where muralists have elected to display the well-known local rhyme, The Ballad of William Bloat.
The ballad is a classic example of Ulster black humour, dark and rich as a pint of Guinness.  

Photo by Carolynn Forster 2015


The Ballad of William Bloat – Raymond Calvert




In a mean abode on the Shankill Road
Lived a man named William Bloat;
He had a wife, the curse of his life,
Who continually got his goat.
So one day at dawn, with her nightdress on
He cut her bloody throat.


With a razor gash he settled her hash
Oh never was crime so quick
But the drip drip drip on the pillowslip 

Of her lifeblood made him sick.
And the pool of gore on the bedroom floor
Grew clotted and cold and thick.


And yet he was glad he had done what he had
When she lay there stiff and still
But a sudden awe of the angry law
Struck his heart with an icy chill.
So to finish the fun so well begun
He resolved himself to kill.


He took the sheet from the wife’s cold feet
And twisted it into a rope
And he hanged himself from the pantry shelf,
‘Twas an easy end, let’s hope.
In the face of death with his latest breath
He solemnly cursed the Pope.


But the strangest turn to the whole concern
Is only just beginning.
He went to Hell but his wife got well
And she’s still alive and sinning.
For the razor blade was German made
But the sheet was Belfast linen.


Click here: Famous Ulstermen

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

HOSE WERE THE DAYS

As we slip inexorably into Autumn, let’s pause to remember the wondrous days of summer: both summer past and summer long ago.


HOSEPIPE

We scattered, screaming, laughing too,
not really wanting to escape
the chill, refreshing water spray,
like dazzling rain, the hosepipe threw.
My brother giggled like an ape:
in bathing togs, we danced away,
then, panting, watched the water spew.
With Father, we would laugh and jape
while summer days drifted away
and we, like watered lupins, grew.