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Friday, 28 November 2008

Water -- by Zephirine


“Does madam prefer still or sparkling water?”
- well, both, since you ask

I like a deep lake, tree-fringed and muddy-edged
with ducks and swans nesting among the reeds
a few small islands floating over their reflections
and wooded hills surrounding
I like a big round pool freckled with fountain splashes
defined by stone in a well-ordered garden
with lilies and goldfish fat and flourishing
and the past echoing across its surface
I like a quiet canal cut through the countryside
a slow way between well-grazed meadows
level going from distant lock to lock
a heron staring at a passing barge

And I like brown streams that bubble over stones
rapid, energetic, noisy, shallow
that briefly jostle along stray twigs and leaves before
they cast them aside for new toys
I like a big fast river that wears its power lightly
combs long weeds in its depths and smooths stone over years
but always with a glitter on the surface
a kingfisher’s flight for decoration
I like the sea when it froths around rocks
bounces back sunlight and teases at ankles
each wave a variation of height and curvature
breaks, divides, reaches into and never quite leaves the memory...

Oh I see: you were talking about the stuff in bottles.


Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Underwater IV -- by File


underwater IV

of washes
on mottled paper
shallows of

implicit horizons
oceans exploring
the shores of

of the seas
at the tips of bristles
vision listens to
whispers of

and washes
waves overlapping
worlds, underwater
often spills


Friday, 21 November 2008

3 short poems -- by Beyond the Pale


Tree Talk

Tree talk is the party line of the intelligent listening forest
whether the smooth voiceless no breeze whisper rustling
inside green upper tiers of a fogbound blue spruce
or the deep aether growth song stirring
down in each tender quiet working sub-earth redwood shoot



Mare's tail clouds cotton white
against a summer yacht blue
sky--the extending of light into
the renewing of the evening


After Wang Wei

Chilling down by the water
stopped to watch clouds drift
clouds drift clouds drift
bumped into mr. green
talked laughed forgot
it was time to go


Sunday, 9 November 2008

For no reason at all

But you can think of a caption if you like...

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Bonfire Night – Thoughts not a poem -- by Mimitig

Remember remember
The fifth of November
Gunpowder,treason and plot.

There can be few adults aged, well, my sort of age, who don’t have childhood memories of fireworks night. We were given, or earned, some pocket money and went to the local shop to buy roman candles, Catherine wheels, jumping jacks, and asked Da to help out to get one of those big exciting-looking rockets.

With the fireworks stashed in the cellar, Mum helped make the Guy – some old stockings stuffed with newspaper for the legs, a worn out vest or jumper stuffed with an old cushion for the body, and a coal sack stuffed with straw and a face drawn in charcoal for the head.

Job done and we took the Guy out on the street to get some pennies, for a few more jumping jacks and toffee apples.

Home and time to build the bonfire. My dad was a master of the fire, and he built it so carefully – a pyramid of wood on which to perch the Guy.

At the very end of the garden, the fire was skilfully lit. It smouldered slowly, started to take hold, and Da began to light the first fireworks.

Roman candles started the display, glorious colours cascading into the grass. Then there were the fountains – two, three feet of magic. A short break then for us to light our sparklers (while Da attended to the bonfire and made sure that the Guy was sitting nicely, ready for the finale), and we waved them round. Writing our names in the sky. Screaming with laughter as the cold sparks fell on our woollen mittens.

Then came the Catherine wheels. The day before Da put up wooden sticks so he could nail the fireworks safely. Blue, green, bright white colours swirled in front of us. We ate our toffee apples and clapped with soft gloved hands.

Waiting for the big moment, the moment when the Guy would go up in big flames, the moment when the rockets would be launched, we had the jumping jacks. All round the garden, under the bushes, under the laburnum tree, they leapt and banged and we screamed in surprise.

Then the denouement, the moment we’d been waiting for. Six milk bottles standing in a line. Each rocket waiting, two small, three medium and one great big one. The anticipation was intense.

Da lit the first two. Little whooshes. Just went over the garage roof, but green and red sparks. We went – wooh.

Next three – wow – over the wall, into Keble College gardens, and they weren’t just green and red, they were blue and white and very bright. We cheered, loudly.

Then we waited, literally with bated breath for the big one. The last three had been spectacular.

So two small girls, watch, mittened hands clasped, as Da approaches The Big One. The fuse is lit, suddenly a jumping jack we thought finished, leaps out from the undergrowth. The girls shriek, and miss the moment of launch. But a moment later the rocket starts to earn its money. First a whistle in the star night sky. A silence. Then a burst of golden showers, then green, then red. This rocket has cleared the walls, the nearest buildings and is blossoming in the velvet darkness of a November sky.

With a final burst of lemon-coloured tiny stars, the rocket dies. We don’t know where it fell, and we don’t care. The bonfire starts to die down. Watching the fireworks, we have missed the burning of the Guy. Da attends to the fire, making it safe, then hugs us, closely, says – was that fun? We hug him closely. It’s been the best, we say.

Mum’s back in the kitchen, looking after the pets and making sure there’s hot soup and baked potatoes for us all.

Now I’m the grown-up. And I hate the fireworks. All I care about now is making sure my cats are safe when the bangs start. Perhaps if I had children I would be less harsh. But when we were young, we didn’t tie jumping jacks to cats' tails or throw bangers at strangers in the street. We had a family thing, in our walled garden.

This year, however, I am moved with other thoughts. It is of course, coincidence that the US election has fallen at this time of year. It is coincidence that the BBC are doing a big historic series.

But you know, what is a coincidence? Someone else’s chance, or one of Humphrey Lyttleton’s Pot Noodles of Fate?

At the very moment that Barack Obama seems to usher the world into a new era, so we are reminded of the wish for ethnic cleansing that was the Gunpowder Plot. Fawkes and his co-conspirators were very clear on that. They didn’t just want to blow up parliament. They wanted London and England to be rid of all Scots.

And that is perhaps why Bonfire night is still remembered. Across these lands of Albion and Alba. Across the religions, because some burn the Guy because of Catholics, others because of politics.

Wouldn’t it be a great thing now, this year, if we stopped all that rubbish, and celebrated November the fifth for Obama’s victory. For a new era, and a more tolerant era for our generation and for those who come.

Remember remember
The fifth of November
The day we came of age


Thursday, 6 November 2008

Born Yesterday -- by Beyond the Pale


The concept of evil, as long ago
Symbolized by the devil, has evolved
Over centuries into the concept
Of men, as delineated by (let's
Call her) Naima, Halloween night
At Fertile Grounds, where she stood
Demurely chatting with Ayman, the handsome
Proprietor (think Omar Sharif
With soul and twinkle) at closing time,
As I poked my ancient nose in and said
"Trick or treat." Ayman offered a knuckle
Bump solidarity hello--alone there
By the counter with lovely young Naima,
Who, when I said, What's new, smiled
Ever so sweetly and said, "Men are evil!"
Feeling it ungracious to disagree
I didn't, for a moment. But then--
Well, solidarity is solidarity.
"What about Ayman?" I said. "Ayman
Doesn't look evil to me." Naima
Fixed upon Ayman a glance of great
Critical probity, smiled and said, "Hmm,"
A moment passed, pregnant, perhaps
With reconsideration. Exceptions
Prove rules are basically dumb,
And really, that's the trouble, after all,
With generalization. And what of love?
"Isn't love," I ventured, "a matter of
Recognizing someone has flaws
And trying to help them limit the damage?"
More thought. "Yes, that's exactly what it is,"
Naima said. And to myself I said,
One point for a draw, quit while you're not losing.
I fell out the door, squeezing between raindrops.
Two ten-year-old girls walked past, one with horns,
The other peeping from a full body cast.
You forgot your treat, Ayman called out,
Holding up a bag of old pastries
From the "Born Yesterday" basket.


Saturday, 1 November 2008

Lost -- by Beyond the Pale


Even on the mean concrete streets
Of Berkeley there are lost deer at night
This time of year, run off the hills, descending
To look for water and, not finding it,
Settling for nibbling the leaves of rose
And other bushes in people's back yards

Last fall this time, standing in the daytime rush
Hour street out front, now vacant this once
Because it was peaceful three in the morning
I heard familiar light tap dancer steps
On pavement that alerted me to
A presence I knew could not be another

Clumsy human like me, turned and saw close by,
Surprised as I was by our chance meeting,
Ears cocked toward me and likewise frozen,
A big deer, calculating whether to make
A run for safety yet no doubt in the same
Moment aware in cities there's no safety

For deer--we stood both thus transfixed,
Till I looked away, knowing in this turning
I would allow our night encounter to end--
As so it did, for in those seconds more
Light footsteps told me the visitor was
Moving away up into darkness toward...?