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Friday, 31 December 2010

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Time for Some Christmas Music Again

and a Merry Christmas to all OtherStuffers and Lurkers worldwide!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Some Chap-Hop for the Week Before... Anytime -- by Professor Elemental

This remarkable chap-hop ditty, a challenge from the Professor to the upstart Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer, has become the unofficial anthem of the Guardian cricket bloggers (a very amiable and non-fighting posse). A plot is afoot to make it no.1 for Christmas. Enjoy.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

When the Night has Come and the Land is Dark.... -- by Playing for Change

Thanks to DocShoot for recommending this clip:

More Playing for Change videos at

Monday, 15 November 2010

Recipe for a Perfume of Autumn -- by Zephirine


Mushrooms, of course


Crushed grass

Rotting apples

Damp leaves smouldering

A last honeysuckle

A tattered rose

Is that incense or only woodsmoke?

Out of nowhere, butterscotch

And, ah yes


Sunday, 24 October 2010

Nohu -- by OffsideinTahiti

(translated by Zephirine)

Captain Terenui parked his car in the Moorea gendarmerie compound. He left his wife to go and open the door of the commanding officer’s house, and made a detour to the guard-post to look in on the duty officer and check that all was well before going to bed. They had just come back from an evening spent with some friends, which had made a very pleasant ending to the week. He liked Sunday evenings. The excitements of the weekend had calmed down, the drunks went to bed early, and calls to the station switchboard were rare.

However, he found the duty officer taking a phone call. Captain Terenui waited until he had hung up and then looked at him questioningly. The duty officer explained as he noted it down in the register.

“The undertakers. Something irregular about a burial permission. They want us to send somebody, who shall I wake up?”

Captain Terenui glanced at the wall clock. Past eleven o’clock. There’d be trouble. And he needed everyone to be fresh in the morning for the co-ordination meeting with the coastguards. He drummed his fingers briefly on the counter and then decided.

“Let them sleep, I’ll go. Apart from that - quiet?”

The duty officer nodded reassuringly.

He got back in his own car and drove at a steady pace through the darkness. The wind was stirring the palm trees above the deserted ring road. Twenty minutes later, he was parking in front of the building which served as a combination of mortuary, funeral parlour and coffin-making workshop. There was only one other vehicle in the parking space. Captain Terenui checked his reflection in the window of the car. The yellowish light of the street lamps wasn’t flattering. He had put on some more weight. He smoothed down the tails of his flowered shirt, thought to himself that it wasn’t the most appropriate outfit, and headed for the side entrance, where a ray of light showed around the door.

The undertaker, an abrupt, angular Chinese, was waiting for him in the large, completely tiled room. Captain Terenui absorbed the double shock of the harsh light and the strong smell of formaldehyde, behind which floated other, less definable odours. There was only one body, laid out face down on a stainless-steel table at the other end of the room. He didn’t feel like going to look at it straightaway. A brief glance was enough to tell him that it was an elderly woman with grey hair. A green surgical sheet covered the lower part of the corpse from the small of the back downwards. She had her head turned to the side. Towards him.

“We don’t normally work this late. But we got the body in during the evening, and we thought, with the heat…”

The undertaker handed him the death certificate. His eyes went straight to the bottom of the document. Referring to the item ‘Medical or legal obstacle to burial’, the ‘no’ box had been ticked. He immediately looked for the doctor’s signature. The name meant nothing to him.

“Delpierre, who's he?”

“The new GP. I’ve called him too.”

At that exact moment, Doctor Delpierre pushed the entrance door open, stood still for a moment on the threshold and then walked rapidly towards them. He was very tall, pale, the completely bald top of his head surrounded by a coronet of grey hair. He was obviously far from pleased to have been disturbed on a Sunday evening. The undertaker made the introductions and then led them over to the steel table, continuing his explanations:

“My assistant called me. He was just starting the embalming…” He turned toward Captain Terenui and took on an expert tone. “That means we draw off the fluids and gases…”

Captain Terenui interrupted him with a gesture. He knew. As he walked towards the corpse, he was trying not to look at the shelves of glass jars. He hadn’t had a drink, because he was driving, but he had had too much to eat.

The undertaker continued. “We clean the body at the same time. That was the point when he saw the marks. I thought it was better to call you.”

“What marks?” The doctor interrupted brusquely.

The undertaker indicated the woman’s back. In the muscle running alongside the spinal column, a little lower than the left shoulder blade, there could clearly be seen a little round black mark, with a second one, even smaller and less noticeable, just underneath.

The doctor was already leaning over the body, adjusting his glasses.

“Shit.” He rolled his sleeves up. The undertaker went to get him a pair of latex gloves.

Captain Terenui cleared his throat. “You hadn’t seen them?”

The doctor answered sharply, defensive. “I didn’t have any reason to undress her. Eighty-three years old, history of serious heart problems – the nephew showed me a prescription as long as your arm - and all the symptoms of an infarction. She was found sitting with her head on the kitchen table.” He spread his hands as if to say “you know what I mean,” looking at him over the metal frame of his small half-moon glasses.

Captain Terenui took a quick look at the death certificate which he still had in his hand, to check if infarction was given as the cause of death. The name of the deceased caught his eye, and he stood very still for a moment.

While the doctor was putting on his gloves, Captain Terenui leaned round to see the woman’s face. Her eyes were closed, her expression set. He hadn’t recognised her. It didn’t surprise him. It was years since he’d seen her. He stared at her face and still had trouble believing that it was the woman he’d once known, there, underneath the mask of death. On the certificate, the name, address and age left no doubt. It really was Auntie Moea.

The doctor’s voice distracted him from his thoughts.

“What the fuck is this thing?”

The two other men were leaning over the wound. The doctor spread the skin with the palms of his hands in order to examine the marks. The undertaker ventured: “Insect bite?”

“If it’s a spider, it’s not a species native to here… anyway I hope not.”

Captain Terenui joined them and leaned over too, nudging the undertaker aside with the imposing bulk of his shoulder. There were two holes, like two vaccination marks. The flesh at the edges of the holes was black and rotting. The skin around the injury had red marks and some visible, but not pronounced, swelling. For a moment he was silent, perplexed, then he suddenly remembered where he had seen this before. Before he had the time to think, the word escaped him on a quiet breath.


Still leaning over the wound, the doctor asked: “Nohu? What’s that, nohu?”

As there was no answer, he lifted his head towards Captain Terenui. His gaze met only a row of glass jars on shelves. The Captain was already halfway to the door. As he went out, he heard the undertaker say to the doctor:

“Nohu, in Tahitian, means scorpion fish.”

Captain Terenui slid in behind the wheel and set off northwards on the ring road, thoughts whirling in his mind. The nohu was an extremely ugly fish, which spent most of its time sitting at the bottom of the sea on the coral, and could even bury itself in the sand and live without water, between two tides, its poisonous dorsal spines ready to strike down anyone rash enough to step on them. That was what had happened to his father when he was a child. And he had seen his father – a big bruiser of a man - weeping with pain. He could still remember the look of the wound, the black trace of the poisoned tissue. The affected limb had swollen up enormously and turned first red, then blue. His father had survived, after two days of fever and agonising pain. He had completely recovered, but for an elderly person with a weak heart…

Auntie Moea had been a neighbour of his parents, back in the day. He hadn’t seen her since he had come back to take up his new post on his native island. He’d seen Alphonse, of course, her nephew, his childhood friend. But the space which had grown between them had left him feeling depressed. He himself had gone off to the lycée, in town, then to France and the army. After that, the gendarmerie and the slow climb up the ranks through a succession of provincial barracks. Now he was in charge of the brigade, at home, on his island. The island that Alphonse, on the other hand, had never left. He had been left with Auntie Moea as a kid, she had brought him up. She had no other family apart from some distant cousins on another island, Terenui couldn’t remember which. She was a tough woman, harsh and authoritarian. He dragged a picture of her up out of his memories, and it seemed to him that she had always been old. He and Alphonse were inseparable back then, and they’d both had a good share of scoldings and smacks round the ankles with the broom from the old woman; but he had also spent, on their bit of land next to the beach, the sunniest hours of his whole life. He and Alphonse were cousins without having a drop of blood in common, except from the shared cuts and scratches of childhood.

He had slowed the car down well before he got there. He realised he wasn’t sure where the place was, and that gave him a shock. He put it down to the darkness and the fact that Moorea had changed: more buildings, more fences… He found his way at last by the tall silhouette of the big badamier tree which had provided all the cool shade of their early years, and parked the car. It seemed to him that the wind had strengthened again.

He walked past Auntie Moea’s house, a plywood and corrugated-iron cabin built at the edge of the water. It was closed, dark and quiet. One could have believed that the old woman was sleeping peacefully inside. Alphonse no longer shared the house with her. He had built himself a wooden shack a bit further along, on the beach. He lived on the fish he caught and what he grew in the small vegetable patch that he cultivated for them both.

Terenui approached the shack, the sound of his footsteps on the sand covered by the rattling of the palms in the wind and the deep bass of the ocean rollers breaking on the reef. An oil lamp was burning inside. The shelter had no door. Terenui went in without announcing himself, and found his friend sitting at the table, a bottle of rum in front of him which he had already made a good start on. He noticed that Alphonse seemed surprised to see him.

“Celebrating already?”

Alphonse answered him in Tahitian, asking why he wasn’t speaking in their own language, the way they always had.

“Tonight, I’m speaking French, and so are you.”

Terenui lowered his heavy bulk onto the bench on the other side of the table. He put his big hands on the greasy oilcloth.

“You playing policeman, then?”

“And you, what are you playing at?”

Alphonse shrugged. He poured himself a shot of rum and then reached over to take a dirty glass from beside the sink. He put it in front of Terenui who pushed it away at once.

“I’ll tell you what you’ve been playing at today. You’ve been playing fisherman, and you caught a nohu.”

Alphonse took a gulp of rum. Then he clicked his tongue, looked down and sighed.

“How you know? I said to the doctor it’s her heart. I showed the medicines, he signed the paper that they can bury her. Didn’t undress her.”

“Chinese, he saw.” Terenui ran his hand over his face. Talking to Alphonse was making him forget his French. He started again, making an effort. “The Chinese guy, the undertaker. He saw the marks when he was cleaning her up.”

Alphonse shook his head, seeming disappointed. He spat on the ground.

“Why did you do it?”

Alphonse shifted on his chair, uncomfortable. “We have a row.”

Terenui waited. But there was nothing further.

“That’s all?”

Alphonse made a movement with his chin, impossible to interpret. It could have meant yes, no, or fuck off. He folded his arms defiantly.

Terenui raised his voice. “Come on, you’ve been having rows for fifty years! What happened?”

Alphonse avoided his gaze. He cleared his throat, and started again, more hesitantly. “This time, we have... bad row. After, she shows me this.” He sighed and leafed through a pile of old papers on the table. He pulled out a yellow ticket. A ferry ticket.

“She says tomorrow she’s going to town.”

Terenui lowered his head and stared harder, to make him carry on. A note of anger crept into Alphonse’s voice.

“To change the will. Give everything to them from Huahine!”

Terenui sank his face in his hands. A gust of wind, stronger than the others, shook the hut, which creaked all over. Terenui opened his mouth to speak, but Alphonse didn’t give him time.

“Fifteen years! Fifteen years the doctor says it’s her heart, she’s going to die from her heart. Every morning I wait to see. And every morning, five o’clock, she gets up and calls me to go buy her bread.”

“And she gives you the money to buy yours.”

“Yeah, yeah. And every day I go catch her fish. And open her coconuts for her. You know how long I'm doing this.”

Terenui made a tired gesture. He was feeling his own anger fade, even while the fisherman‘s was swelling up like a sail in the wind. Alphonse pounded the table with his index finger.

“Suppose the cousins from Huahine come. Where I live? Your place?”

Terenui had no reply. The corners of Alphonse’s mouth went down in a rictus of contempt. He shook his head slowly and then pointed to his own chest.

“Fifteen years, heart…” His hand cut the air with a stab from an imaginary dagger. “So with nohu, I sting! Like that, pffft, quicker.” He rubbed his palms together as if to clean them.

Terenui shook his head as if he refused to believe it. He looked Alphonse straight in the eye. His old friend held his gaze. A spark of malice suddenly lit in Alphonse’s black eyes.

“At least, she never piss us off again with her flower garlands.”

The two men both burst out laughing. Terenui took the glass he had pushed away and placed it in front of Alphonse so he could pour him a drink. They clinked glasses and downed their drinks in one go. Terenui let the searing mouthful make its way down into him. He was thinking about that time in their childhood when, to punish them, she made them sit out in the garden in the full heat, in view of the whole neighbourhood, and made them thread flowers on fishing line, for hours. Girls’work. The other boys were going off to play football, and laughed at them as they passed by. He realised that the pain of it was as sharp today in his memory as it had been at the time.

He took a deep breath and began to speak quietly, in Tahitian. Steadily, calmly, he explained it all to Alphonse. He told him they would be here in the morning, that they would ask a lot of questions. So many questions that they would quickly get his head mixed up. That they would do tests on the body and would find the nohu poison, and then they’d understand everything, because they would be pretty sure she hadn’t gone swimming, especially as her dress was dry and she was in her kitchen. And they’d find out from the neighbours that Alphonse was there when she died.

He paused for a long time. Then he told him that if he took his fishing canoe and got as far as Maiao, he could maybe hide there. At least for a while. Maybe for a long time if he kept out of sight and lived on fish. The people of the island wouldn’t give him away. They didn’t speak to the gendarmes. He told him not to worry, he would get himself taken off the case because it involved a personal friend. He’d say that he had come round this evening and found the house empty and the canoe wasn’t there. Perhaps they’d believe that Alphonse had got lost at sea. But he had to be discreet and above all he had to go now, right away.

Alphonse looked outside through the open doorway. The flame of the oil lamp flickered. He answered in French:

“There’s a three-metre swell and it’s pitch black out there, mister policeman.”

He punctuated the sentence with a huge swig of rum and slapped the glass down on the table.

Terenui swept his big hand across the oilcloth and leaned on the corner of the table to stand up. He looked one more time into Alphonse’s eyes, where the anger was now swimming in rum, and went out.

Outside, Terenui walked to the edge of the plot of land and stopped facing the lagoon. The cabins were worth nothing, but the land, a fine seaside plot with a big beach of white sand, would be worth a small fortune nowadays. He was sure that Alphonse hadn’t thought about this for a single second. It was his home, that was all.

He traced a vague design in the sand with the point of his town shoe. In the distance, the waves were breaking on the reef with a deafening thunder. He thought that if the canoe’s outboard started up, he probably wouldn’t hear it from here. He thought, too, that if at this moment he were to put his heart onto the surface of these dark waves, it would sink straight down to the ocean floor, where it could torment itself in the company of the pallid venomous creatures in the immense night of the deep.


Monday, 4 October 2010

Not So Strictly -- by Zephirine

OtherStuffers living in the UK have probably noticed the start of a new season of 'Strictly Come Dancing' on TV... it prompted me to revisit these small poems:

Waltzing is
easy you
just keep on
one two three
twirl a bit
mind his feet
try to look
charming and
hope it’s not
Tales from the
Woods again
next or the
Blue bloody

The tango is O
K if you’re a sexy type who
leans back on your partner’s
arm and then steps
swiftly to one side and
does that wavy
gesture with the ankle
(tricky that one)
not to mention when you
lift your leg be-
hind your partner’s back and
try not to look
too much like a peeing dog

called this
the fox
no fox
this way
it wanted to
by hounds
from limb while
girls on po-

one two cha cha cha
once so la di da
once used to be danced
at firms’ dinner dan-
ces by wives with blonde
hair like Doris Day
in tight kitten heels
and sequins somewhere
one two cha cha cha
how lucky we are
we’ve got a new car
and a hostess trolley

Waltz photo: Sigismond von Dobschutz
Tango graphic: Jorge Muscia
Foxtrot photo of Vernon & Irene Castle by FB Johnston
Cha cha record sleeve from 

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Marey and the River -- by Zephirine



You cannot, so we are told, step twice into the same river:
the water will have flowed on past.  But you too
will not be the same person stepping.

In Marey’s image, change is happening
in the space between the man who jumps,
the man who has just jumped, the man who jumped
a moment ago, the man
in mid-jump
who used to be the man about to jump
and who will soon be
he who has jumped.

The man who jumps is not the same man who lands.

He will have added some heartbeats, shed some skin
he might have sneezed
or remembered that he had to be somewhere
or decided, in mid-jump, to leave his wife.

The man who gets up from the bed turns and looks down
at himself, yes, but the self of a moment ago
still there, an instant ghost.

Chronophotographic images made by Étienne-Jules Marey (1830-1904) 

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Storm -- by Mimitig

photo by James W Young from

Bruised dark purple sky
Threatening violence
Flashes dark across the clouds
Lightning fuels bruises
Reel against the violence
Of the weather
Rain hurls itself
Against the window
No way out
Gutters weep, cry and echo
Blows and tears leave me weak
Crying for my past


Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The Meltonian Gene -- by Meltonian

Back in my Gloucestershire childhood,
the one thing that gave me a scare
was the two-headed lamb which stood
at the top of my granny’s stair.

It was in a plate-glass cabinet,
topped off by a castor-oil plant,
buffed like a dowager’s lorgnette
by my ancient four-armed aunt.

I gave it to the dustbin man,
but though it was totally sick,
my six-eyed uncle loved that lamb,
and granny’s eight legs were too quick.

So it stood in its usual place
with its dead eyes and its dandruff
and every time I hid my face
twelve fingers just weren’t enough.


Friday, 18 June 2010

About the Coypu -- by Zephirine

photo of Coypu (nutria) in Dortmund Zoo by Timo Sack

The Coypu is lacking in charm
it is like a large rat, but aquatic
it makes holes in the banks of a stream
and the damage it does is dramatic

The Coypu has bright orange teeth
a look which is seldom in fashion
and at times has been bred for its meat
which, though low-fat, does not inspire passion

You could wear Coypu fur as a cloak
if that is your idea of clothing
though you might risk a sudden attack
from protestors who’d view you with loathing

Coypu ravaged the Anglian Broads
till instructions came from the judiciary
and we're told the obstreperous hordes
were wiped out by the Min. Ag. and Fishery

with every assurance and platitude
that humanely their weapons were working...
but with orange incisors and attitude
the Coypu may somewhere be lurking


Saturday, 12 June 2010

Mancestors -- by Meltonian

 'Passport to Pimlico'(1949)

Drinking until you fell flat on your face,
getting through sixty untipped fags a day,
stuffing yourself with bacon rolls and buns
regardless of what the doctor might say,
let alone the wife, whose appointed place
was to get your washing and ironing done,
cook a decent dinner and clear away.
You can see it might have been a lot of fun.

No washing-up or hanging the clothes out,
hoovering or mopping the kitchen floor,
talking to the kids or cooking the grub,
all that New Man stuff would be out the door.
No poncy foreplay or fiddling about,
a brisk embrace and then straight to the nub,
taking thirty-five seconds and no more,
then get your drawers on and down the pub.

Of course there were some serious downsides,
work, lawn-mowing, creosoting the shed,
an adherence to ancient traditions
which made experiment pretty well dead
so life experience was less than wide,
no art or culture or erudition,
no decent shampoo, and a limited
repertoire of sexual positions.

Personal hygiene was largely absent,
only tramps would have beards like that today,
and there’s no shortage of things to condemn,
like attitudes to women or being gay:
sometimes those chaps were rather unpleasant.
But they were taken prisoner by their time
like us, and finally one can only say
we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.

'I'm All Right Jack' (1959)


Saturday, 22 May 2010

About the Caracal -- by Zephirine

photo by Aaron Logan

The ear-tufts of the Caracal
may help it hear a mouse
communicate with friends
or hide better in tall grass

The Caracal will eat most things
though mammals are preferred
it can dine on a monkey
or perhaps snack on a bird

In London Zoo I met a Caracal
which would rather shyly join
its keeper in a game of football
but only if it was in the mood.


Sunday, 9 May 2010

Sometimes -- by Mimitig

photo from

Sometimes at night I feel my heartbeat
Like a butterfly
Wings beating fast inside

Sometimes at night I wake drowning
Mermaid tail thrashing
Going nowhere

Sometimes at night I wake crying
Tears drench my pillow

Sometimes at night I dream of singing
Songs from past and present
Writhe round my mind and wake me
In the morning
Only shadows of the tunes

Sometimes at night people fill my mind
Dead and alive, they crowd me
Needing – something

Sometimes I wake
Heart beating like a butterfly

Sometimes the morning sun
Rises in a sky painted glorious
Pink and red

Then I know


Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Goldilocks the Floating Voter -- by Zephirine

"I hope she is dreaming of a progressive future.  Do you think my smile will frighten her when she wakes up?" said Gordon Bear.

"Eew, she looks quite common," said Dave Bear, "she will have to be looked after by volunteers."

"She should vote for me," said little Nick Bear, "because she is cute and so am I."

But Goldilocks slept on....

Illustration by Margaret Evans Price, 1927

Sunday, 25 April 2010

No Caption Needed

.... but you can add one if you like...

photo: Zack Clothier/Rex Features


Sunday, 18 April 2010

Heartsease -- by Mimitig

photo by Ekko

Who gives flowers these names?
A rose by any other name is still a rose.
Not so the humble pansy.
Some call it heartsease
Never thought at all why so
Til with the flowering
Of our pansies
I realized what heartsease means.
These flowers with their lovely faces
Ease the heart.
It’s that simple,
That’s why flowers that have no care
Have no feelings for us
Just smile in deep purple velvet
Outrageous bright yellow and
Sweetly gentle orange
The garden starts to flourish
As the snow diminishes.
We have colour and we have life.
I can choose some posies for my room.
Daffodils in the green vase are fun,
But too late for St David’s Day.
I search the cupboard and the cabinet
For special pansy vase – from Myrthr Mawr.
Find it, pick the blooms, dead-head the rest –
They’ll bloom again.
I have my pansies, my heartsease and can be quiet again.

photographer unknown.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Thursday, 18 March 2010

March 3rd, 1943 -- by Zephirine

Henry Moore: Pink and Green (Tate Gallery)

Sleep on, lying safely down there on the platforms,
Huddled together in row upon row.
Something terrible’s happened at Bethnal Green Station
But no-one is talking, it’s best not to know.

Sleep on, Harry, Amy, the girl from the chippy,
The chap from the butcher’s, and Vernon and Nell,
When you wake in the morning your friends will be missing,
The steps will be swept and nobody will tell.

When you wake in the morning they will all be missing,
The ones that you loved or you saw every day,
Sleep on now, not knowing a few yards above you
They died on the steps and were taken away.

Try to sleep now, young Alf, lying there in the darkness,
Eyes wide at the shock of the things you just saw.
Try to sleep, Mrs Chumbley, you’ve done all you can
But you can’t put the dead back where they were before.

Sleep on now, the lost, in your rows in the mortuaries,
Brought in by those who worked on through the night
And who won’t close an eye in the nights that will follow.
You will be remembered, we promise. Sleep tight.

(These sites will explain more:

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Conversation on the Bus -- by Zephirine

What you got there then?
Yeah, leeks.
Leeks. You going to cook ’em then?
Yeah, going to make soup.
Yeah, leek soup.
Leek soup. Nice.
Yeah, nice.

You got a blender have you?
No blender?
No. Chop ’em up.
What, the leeks, you chop ’em up then?
Yeah, I like it chunky.
Yeah, chunky. Big soup.
Big soup. Nice.
Yeah. Nice.

I’ll come round then, shall I?
(laugh) Yeah.
Yeah, you do that.
I’ll send you an email, shall I?
Yeah, when you’re coming round.
Have some soup.
Yeah, leek soup.
Leek soup, nice.


Friday, 26 February 2010

Monday, 22 February 2010

Warning! -- Pinkerbell

Warnings! -- OffsideinTahiti

Warning! -- Zephirine

Warnings! -- by File

The ever-inventive File has discovered this splendid site:

here are his first efforts:

you may like to make some of your own....

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Winged Beings, Various

I was going to write a poem about how much I dislike cherubs.   You know, these guys (on the left, by Raphael, on the right, by Poussin):

Cute chubby little toddlers with wings, who hang about in the corners of paintings.  They annoy me.

But it turns out that I was misinformed, not to say confused, for these are not cherubs, they're putti.

Cherubs, or to be correct cherubim, are much more impressive, being actually a kind of angel.  According to Wikipedia, they can look like this:

Cherubim have been described thus, based on early books in the Old Testament:  "they have four faces: one of each a man, an ox, a lion, and an eagle... They have four conjoined wings covered with eyes, and they have ox's feet."     No chubby little boys there, then.

What an interesting idea angels are. Jews, Christians and Muslims all believe in them. Medieval Christian theologians got them organised into hierarchical rankings with different tasks, based on interpretations of the scriptures (read all about the system here).

The Assumption of the Virgin, by Francesco Botticini, showing three hierarchies and nine orders of angels

In spite of the ox's foot stuff, angels acquired a pretty much uniform appearance in art: tall, handsome humanoids in nice robes with large, rather smart feathery wings, in white or various colours.

 The Annunciation by Petrus Christus

Of course, recently angels have been co-opted for all sorts of alternative belief systems, and if you Google Image search "angel" you will find some truly terrible art, as well as some that's downright strange:

The Wounded Angel by Hugo Simberg

But somehow the dignity of angels remains intact.  Unlike the dignity of putti, who never had any in the first place.

Please contribute your thoughts on angels, cherubim, seraphim and putti, in verse or prose as you prefer.
(While thinking, you might like to listen to Kathleen Battle and Wynton Marsalis duetting in Handel's Let the Bright Seraphim )

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Wolf Mother -- by Mimitig

I ran, fearful, fleeing the demons
Turned, fighting
Fought, tooth, claw and nail.
Won and lost.
Killed the spirit evil,
Lost my cub.
Searching, searching, searching
I ran, fearful, but not fleeing.
Hunting for my blood, my kin, my kind.
Paws bleeding on the snow
Paws wounded, like my heart
But searching.
My lost cub, cold and fading.
Fading and failing, needing warmth.
I found redemption
Found my cub
I had warmth to give
Enough for my poor cub
My cub, my warmth to save her
Curling, nesting, nursing
Resting through the snow and ice of winter
Spring burst upon us
Little cub bounding in the meadow
Reminds me of the joy
Life is full of song
My life returns for I
I who have lost so much
Have found a reason
To live and love.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Woolly Thoughts

First I thought of asking you to write poems about Wool... but it seemed too limited a subject.... so let's include Sheep...  Ballads, sonnets, limericks, please yourselves, but there must be wool or sheep in there somewhere.

Herdwick Sheep: photo by Tony Richards

Irish sheep dyed in colours of local football team: photo by John Smyth

Woman in Sikkim: photo by Sukanto Debnath

Illustration from knitting blog

American World War I poster

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Just a couple more, oh, all right, three then...

As the UK is currently covered with snow and gloom, some old-fashioned cheer .....