A WORK IN PROGRESS – METALLURGY

Looking again at some of my poems I am sorry to have burdened you with such raw material. As you know the queen has been reigning for seventy years which is quite a remarkable feat and I felt a poem bubbling up inside for this special time. Here is my contribution and it is very personal. However, I am open to comments and thoughts about it, even about its style and if I should cut certain lines or re-arrange the verses.

Metallurgy

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Crossing his palm with silver
He placed his hand on my
Little bap.  My cursed pa,
With a penchant for 
Dressing in ma's clothes.
In my winning pink silk crown
Adorned with ermine and jewels,
Turquoise, rubies and pearls,
I served up ice-cream
As mum stoked the barbeque 
And dad pulled the pints,
Sister Candy was the queen.
And now my son has been hot-crossed with silver,
Toch'd by persons unknown in 'the home'.
I feel like Non's silver tea pot,
Pretty but useless.
And my silvered son's body has been intricately engraved
With (XXX). 
The dad had a hole burning in his pocket from the hot gloves.
The coins came back to cross us in gold.
And guilded nurse babe fled to New Guinea
To avoid excessive scrutiny in '99,
When champagne uncle's corks were popping everywhere.
But my guilt burnt a hole so deep
It was like hell as Freddie Mercury
Looked down on the roof tops from above
As my sweet child and I had a party
In the blue room.
That guilt that I can't quite forget or forgive
Was it the caretaker?
The circle was tight and
The watcher over the wall snatched my son.
Through the gap up to the caravan,
And I could tell but no-one believed.
We fled never to return to Devon and Cornwall.
And Non's platinum ring is unworn, unused, mislaid.
The family has been seen off by
A first platinum crown.
Son officially, rest unofficially.
Now I lift my pen to scribble my truth,
And tap and type 'til Kingdom come,
Leaving a blank inch - return, return;
For the 'X marks the spot'.  (Dad, Malcolm, Tony).
It's not an assent 
It's a complaint your honour, Mum,
A silver disloyal royal representative.
And Non's silver cake knives are waiting
Somewhere for my son to inherit.
by Patricia Goldberg

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Stanza Stones Trail

The wind set in and the dried grasses whirled around the quarry like fairies as I searched all around for the first Stanza Stone on this long distance footpath. The bright shining sun that had been blazing so hot as I trekked up to the top of Pule Hill disappeared and I was feeling very alone and a bit lost in the middle of nowhere. I took a well earned lunch break to eat my vegan pork pies, then suddenly I found the stone, in a tucked away spot.

Simon Armitage’s poetry trail was set up around the time of the last jubilee and for the London Olympics culture program. It is a bit faded now and difficult to find, but it will stand the test of time. The six poems on the walk between Marsden and Ilkley have the theme of the weather, especially water in all its forms as this is a very damp area. This spot up above the little town of Marsden in the West Yorkshire Moors would be worth going back to in the winter to get the fullest effect of the poem – “Snow”.

Here is a line or two from the poem as can be picked out in the picture below.

SNOW by Simon Armitage

‘Snow like water asleep, a coded muteness to baffle all noise, . . . . .

. . . The odd unnatural pheasant struts and slides. Snow, snow, snow

and me reciting the whole poem. I am looking forward to completing the rest of the trail over the summer.

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The Girl with the Louding Voice

by Abi Dare

Review

In my book group this week we were reading this and it was my choice to listen to it as an audio book. I am so pleased that I did.

It is a very inspiring story of why not to give up and how to endure the most terrible things and still have faith in humanity to lift us up. So many books I read make me feel why did I bother, eg Brooklyn, On the Road, To the Lighthouse. But this story was drawing me in right the way through. It might have been because I wanted an insight into a culture that is very different from my own, but this was also why I chose to listen to it instead, as the reader acted like a guide to the Nigerian culture. And the dialect gave added authenticity.

In normal times I don’t think I would have looked at this book twice. I would have not been concerned with the characters or would think that perhaps it could be far too distressing a read. In fact, for me, this was about right and I am pleased I attended my book group this month and read something out of my comfort zone.

La Fin de la Nuit Pour L’Enfant

From Les Misérables, Part I, Book 1, chapter 10, by Victor Hugo

L’Eveque en Présence d’une Lumière

A transfiguration at a deathbed that leads the bishop to be a good and holy disciple. 

“Le Conventional,

-Quant á Louis XVI j’ai dit non . . . .

J’ai voté la fin du tyran.  C’est à dire la fin de la prostitution pour la femme, la fin de l’esclavage pour l’homme, la fin de la nuit pour l’enfant.  En votant la république, j’ai voté la fraternité, la concorde, l’aurore! . . .”

These stirring words are recalled to us at a moment later in in the story about the progress that this light has brought to the world through the conversion of Jean Valjean.

“-. . . .  Dans dix ans, j’aurai gagné dix millions, je les répands dans le pays, je n’ai rien à moi, qu’est-ce que cela me fait?  Ce n’est pas pour moi ce que je fais!  La prospérité de tous va croissant, les industries s’éveillent et s’excitent, Les manufactures et les usines se multiplient, Les familles, cent familles, milles families! sont heureuses; la contrée se peuple; . . . .  la misère disparaît, et avec la misère disparaissent la débauche, la prostitution, le vol, le meurtre, tous les vices, tous les crimes!  Et cette pauvre mère élève son enfant! et voilà un pays riche et honnete!”

Jean Valjean has done well and made a triumph out of a disaster. He has helped the region and its people to go from strength to strength.  But unfortunately he has a personal test with Fantine, just such a person he was hoping to give support to in his factory, but she was sacked because of tittle tattle and fell into destitution.  As a single mother in times when you could be jailed for life for the theft of an apple, she has been harangued and harassed, abused and assaulted.  So he now has to prioritise a personal clash with his own past in the form of Javert, the Inspector of Police, and Fantine’s pleading for her child to be rescued and brought back to her. 

Perhaps I shouldn’t be reading this in a pandemic as it is relentless in its depictions of the depressing ways people can behave to one another.  There are many hopeful moments though and the story is well-known and loved by me.  In fact the French reads fairly smoothly to me and I am really loving the extra story twists and turns and the philosophising in the original book.

It will be a long read though, so if you are tackling this yourself or have read it, or are going to soon then please let me know in the comments below. 

Well Seasoned Days.

By Michael Doyle

Seasoned Daysby Michael DoyleMay your daily conversationFilled as it is with God’s graceBe one of spiritual connectionAnd welcoming to God’s embraceSeen in the faces of the pastIs the dreamers of vast legacySeizing the days that would not lastBut knowing each moment intimately May we, ourselves, live throughAll of our well seasoned daysSharing with the others […]

Well Seasoned Days