Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Bordeaux Bay by Guernsey-based artist Tony Taylor

Sunday, 3 July 2022

ON THE BUSES

Like the proverbial buses, poem acceptances often arrive in multiples, rather than singly. No less than five of mine appear today in the Lothlorien Poetry Journal.

You can read them here: https://lothlorienpoetryjournal.blogspot.com/2022/07/five-poems-by-richard-fleming.html




Sunday, 26 June 2022

SCREEN TIME

As we become increasingly addicted to social media, time slips by as we scroll aimlessly through newsfeeds or tweet about trivia. 

As sentient beings, we seem to have entirely surrendered themselves to the powers of social media and this poem attempts to engage with that.





 







IMAGES


This is a tree, he said and pointed to a tree.     

We have seen images, they said.   

There are many trees, he said. This tree is cedar.

We have seen images, they said.


Here is a flower, he said and pointed to a flower.

We have seen images, they said.   

There are various flowers, he said. This is a rose. 

We have seen images, they said.


This is a cat, he said. See it moves. Watch it stretch.

Just like the images, they said.

This is a dog, he said. Watch as it wags its tail.

Images are better, they said.


That is the sky. Those small birds are swallows, he said.

We have seen images, they said.

Over there are blue mountains and a lake, he said.

May we go back inside? they said.


Monday, 20 June 2022

BEFORE THE WAR

Many will be familiar with the poem, Adlestrop, by Edward Thomas, probably one of the most anthologised poems of the Twentieth Century. 

Its charm lies in its sense of peace, combined with the irony of being written just four weeks before the beginning of the First World War.

As NATO and the Western Powers blunder towards World War Three, which, some would contend, has already begun, it seems apt to revisit (or maybe not revisit) Adlestrop.

 















MAYBE NOT ADLESTROP


The train stopped, sighing, but I missed the name.

It might well have been Adlestrop, who knows.

Passengers hurried away, others came:

a few tired faces, locals I suppose,

but while we waited, I heard no birdsong,

just sombre silence till we moved along.

Sunday, 12 June 2022

MEMORY LOSS

This rhyme was intended for my Facebook page where I tend to post light verse but, on reflection, I decided to post it here instead. 

The image is from the 1956 French film, Le Ballon Rouge, directed by Albert Lamorisseone.














REMEMBRANCE (OR NOT) OF THINGS PAST


At five years old, his world was new,

immediate: as though on cue,

things happened or they didn’t, he

danced through his bright days, heedlessly.

A football or a red balloon

held greater magic than the moon,

a tumble or a bloodied knee

were bothersome, but fleetingly.

When five years old, his memories

were insubstantial as a breeze:

last week, the week before, perhaps,

but, further back, there were no maps.

As to the future, what was that?

His next birthday, a cricket bat,

When I grow up, when I, when I …

His mother baking apple-pie,

the thought of schooldays drawing near,

anticipation tinged with fear.


When grown to adulthood, he’d stare

at photographs and wonder where

that child had gone, whom others said

was him, and spoke of games he’d played,

the bat, balloon, the leather ball,

that he pretended to recall

but simply couldn’t. 

Disbelief

brings a peculiar sense of grief.


Sunday, 5 June 2022

POSTCARDS FROM CHILDHOOD

Ballyholme was the 'local' beach when I was growing up and was accessible by train from Belfast. It was regarded as the 'posh' end of the seaside town of Bangor, in County Down, and is still popular with dog-walkers and elderly sea-bathers. 

Domestic photography in the late 1950s was a fairly hit and miss affair but most families had a 'Box Brownie' camera to take monochrome snapshots that faded or took on a yellow tinge over the years. Unlike the plethora of digital images we have access to nowadays, these old photographs survived, if they survived at all, in drawers or cardboard boxes and the occasional rediscovery of one is akin to receiving an unexpected postcard from the long-distant past.







 










THE THREE 


That summer day at Ballyholme,

while I stood there, milk-bottle white,

the three danced ankle-deep in foam,

their voices shrill with pure delight.

A teenage boy, in love, confused,

a problematic way to be,

my heart one minute warmed, then bruised,

I loved, or thought I loved, all three.

Life scattered us, but I recall

that reckless kiss, planned, yet unplanned,

the snap I took, the hasty scrawl,

I love you, in the wave-wet sand.

Though long ago, that day remains

stamped on my heart, so deep, so clear:

the subtle shifting of sand-grains

between my toes, a sense of sheer

delight, the water’s icy chill,

the clothes they wore, their faces still.


Sunday, 29 May 2022

AUTO BIOGRAPHY

The poem, Memento Mori, is a personal favourite. It first appeared in my 2017 collection, Stone Witness, and has since appeared in Snakeskin, a highly respected international poetry webzine which previously published a number of my other poems.


Image Rod Hunt















MEMENTO MORI


An ambulance howls like a hurt cat;

parts traffic as Moses did the waves.


Worms burrow in awaiting graves.

A police car buzzes like a gnat.


Stuck in a jam of steaming cars,

I contemplate how life transforms

in moments. How they wait, those worms,

so patiently, for us, for ours.

 

Sunday, 22 May 2022

SOLITARY MAN

In much the same way as painters create self-portraits or insert small cameos of themselves in group portraits, so too does a poet often pen something of himself, often disguised, in his poems.












RECLUSE


All scattered to the winds and ways,

like blushing cherry blossom blown,

the friends, he knew when not full-grown,

have vanished from his elder days.

The carelessness of childhood meant

that friendships were a thing to find

then let escape. 

No contract signed.

No deal. 

A currency unspent.

If friendships had been coins or gold,

he might have locked inside a cage

all he had gathered to assuage

the loneliness of growing old.