Luminescence

Luminescence

Our world can sometimes seem to be a very dark place. Early yesterday morning, sitting on the back bumper of my car, breathing heavily, unable to shift the weight of snow, rain, freezing rain, ice pellets that had accumulated in our drive, I was gripped by the cold hand of old age and despair.

I remembered the talk show quiz games in which one option was to call a friend. So I did. He turned up after work, started the snow blower and did for me what I was no longer able to do for myself. He cleaned the paths round our house, at the back, to the bird feeders, and down the front the heat pump at the side.

He brought light and joy back into my world, made me realize I was not alone, and I gave him, as a token of my gratitude, this painting: Luminescence.

Those of us who are still capable of bringing light and joy to others must continue to do so. Whatever we do, we must not let the dark side and the shadows take over.

My friend – you touched my heart. I thank you.

Be Yourself

Be Yourself

“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” Oscar Wilde.

One of my favourite authors. A creator of bons mots and a specialist in renewing the meaning of meaning within words. And yes, within the witticism is a pearl of great price. We must indeed be ourselves. But who are we? That is the question. And how do we find ourselves, or know when we are lost, or know when we are found? Alas, all of us must seek those answers for themselves. No one size fits all.

Re-reading Robert Bly’s The Sibling Society, I am struck by his description of a lost generation that looks sideways for knowledge and ignores the long-held traditions of those earlier generations who brought us here and led us to where we are now. Lost people living in a lost world of instantaneous, shallow distractions. Deflect, distract, don’t think, gaze in awe and wonder, and let the show go on.

The Romans, towards the end of their Empire, had words for it too – bread, wine, and circus. Wrap yourself in an invisible cloak of instant pleasures, think no negative thoughts, do nothing, indulge, enjoy, envy, and climb that ladder as fast as you can. Onwards and upwards into the clouds of unknowing and uncaring.

Up there the Wizard of Oz performs his magic, his illusions, his trickery. Only believe and thou shalt see – whatever it is that the Magician wishes to show you. Don’t think. Don’t doubt. Be like someone famous. Copy them. Imitate them. Smoke like them. Drink like them. Be like them. Try to be them. There are some wonderful role models out there. Only believe ….

And forget about the Fall of the Roman Empire, forget about Oscar Wilde, forget about Robert Bly, forget about me. Above all forget these words – “Be yourself. Everybody else is taken.”

Forget them – or carve them into your heart and follow the Delphic Oracle and “Know thyself” or Shakespeare “To thine own self be true”. And remember – you can always make each day a good one. It’s up to you.

First Post of 2023

First Post of 2023

There is nothing to say, except that I have lost my way. Every poem posted to this blog is unavailable for publishing elsewhere. I may not submit them to journals, to editors, to competitions. This is one of the reasons why I have been silent for so long. It’s the same thing with Flash Fiction and stories. ‘Must be unpublished – no social media’. Alas – this blog is ‘social media’. So – I have lost my way, my reason for blogging. What can I blog about?

The weather – we have hardly seen the sun since well before Christmas. Snow, rain, icy rain, ice pellets – ofnadwy a diflas – disgusting weather. The sun shines in my heart. I also have bottled sunshine – sol embotellado – brought in from Spain. But who wants to read wet weather reports, day after day after day? Come to that – who wants to write them?

The news – this is even more depressing than the weather. I sometimes think that the papers deliver as much bad news as possible so we will be happy with the few items that do brighten our lives. Mal de todos, consuelo de tontos – when everybody falls on hard times, only fools take consolation from it.

Politics – spare me from politics and politicians. There is little good to say about any of them. Politicians are treacherous and their policies are worse. I remember the restaurant in Avranches with its sign on the wall – un jour sans vin est un jour sans soleil – a day without wine is a day without sunshine. Well, a day without politicians is a day full of sunshine – no matter what the weather is like outside.

Sports – we are sports-logged. I have never seen so much sport on the TV. Well, to be honest, I haven’t bothered watching it. Event after event, and events running simultaneously all around the world. I am fed up with tennis, soccer, ice hockey, rugby, and all the myriads of championships being played out before us. And the scandals – and the money changing hands – and the grotesqueness of ownership and player trading?

So, what is left to say? I have lost my way and I am trying to find a path through the wilderness of wild words that besiege me. Siege Perilous, indeed. What can I write about? What can I say? Maybe I should start an agony column.

Agony column – send in your questions and maybe, just maybe, I will think about them and comment on them. No. That won’t work. I already have too much on my plate. “Don’t tell me your troubles, I’ve got troubles of my own. Leave me alone, go on home, tell them to a friend, I’ve got troubles of my own.”

The sun – maybe, when the sun returns from his winter vacation, I will actually find something to write about. Maybe not.

Birthday – meanwhile, it’s my birthday I remember my grandfather reciting to me in the kitchen back home in Wales. “Today it is my birthday and I have ten thousand pounds to give away.” He would pause for a moment and then continue: “On second thoughts, I think it best to lock them back in my old oak chest.”

Poems – so the poems will stay in my old oak chest until I publish them properly. Flash Fiction and Short Stories too. In the meantime, any suggestions for this blog will be welcomed with open arms. Including folding it, shutting it down. Maybe it has served its turn and become, like me, out of date and obsolete.

Annie Verse Airy

Annie Verse Airy

Some I remember, some I forget. This one I don’t forget. 56 years ago today, Clare and I got married in Ontario. She had been six days in Canada and the vicar asked us if she were a mail-order bride. We said ‘no’ – for we had known each other for five years at that point and had been officially engaged for 17 months.

Ontario snow-belt snow, they called it. Six feet had already fallen on the banks of Lake Huron, and six more inches fell on our wedding day. How do I know? Well, I guess I must have been there. And ar gwaeth a pawb a pophet, rh’y n’i yma o hyd – and in spite of people and things, we are still here.

I wonder how many are left to remember that day. Clare and I do, obviously. Our daughter does. How many others? I hesitate to count – and it would probably take only one hand. No names, mind. Our wedding was very quiet. A family affair. Clare and I and our Canadian family who emigrated here after WWI, in 1919-20. They offered us their hearts, their home, and their hospitality. They also made all the arrangements and, since we had very little money, covered most of the minimal costs.

Our honeymoon was very brief – two nights in the town’s only hotel, and then back to Toronto on Boxing Day. The reality of the need to survive sunk in very quickly. We have no photos of the ceremony – couldn’t afford a photographer. No honeymoon, other than that brief hotel stay. No palm trees. No Caribbean Island. No white sand beaches. And we were much better off without them for, from the very first day we had to work together to survive and make a success of our lives. Luck and hard work walked hand in hand with us, and here we are, 56 years later, still together, still going strong. We will celebrate very quietly. At the appropriate time, we will light a candle together and raise a glass of wine, as we have done, every year, on Christmas Eve.

Now, as we age, each day is precious. We take few photos. We still haven’t had a honeymoon, let alone a second one. But, as the old song says, “we have travelled the road, sharing our load, side by side”. And we will continue to do so, for as long as we possibly can.

A Season of the Heart

A Season of the Heart

Here in the autumn of my life,
surrounded by the fruits of my labours,
filled with the accumulated wisdom of years,
surrounded by solitude, yet confronted
by fall’s splendour and the harvesting
of so many golden days, collected
and gathered in, safe from winter’s storms.

Old friends from years gone by move
restless through the mists of time
that hide so many things, while revealing
others in the sunbeam’s spotlight
that marks with a sudden enlightenment
the meaning of something I thought
I had lost, yet that still lingers, a shadow
on the mind-wall of memory’s cave,
where firelight flickers and brings things
back to life, magic moments released
from time’s spell and paraded before me,
here, where no bitterness dwells
in the sweetness of remembered time.

Click for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
A Season of the Heart

Movember

Movember

When we men threaten to grow moustaches,
walking unshaven, amid the leaves
that crackle and pop as they rustle,
wind-blown, against our feet.

But pity us, poor hairless ones,
whose youthful skin still bears no beard –
can we we force a moustache to our lips?

That said, a chain of purple lights
adorns the wall in front of me
and I type to its imperious, flashing
bulbs, a constant reminder of bygone days

when the biopsy proved cancerous
and my prostate threatened my body
but was prevented from entering my bones.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Movember

Comment: November is prostate cancer month. My heart goes out to any and all who are suffering from this form of cancer. Caught early, it is curable. Get checked out, as quickly as possible. The sooner you catch it, the sooner your medical team can be formed to inform and advise you as to your choices. And YES, you have choices. I will always be grateful for the help I received, from my own medical team, back in 2014-15, when I was first diagnosed and then cured. Cured, yes. But the nightmare of a possible return always remains, ticking away like a time-bomb at the back of my mind.

Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead

writing by candlelight
the flickering flame
casting shadows
over thought and word

tell me what are shadows
but the false promises
festering in Plato’s Cave
or a fake finger show
projected on an unwilling wall

yellow and red the flames
sweet scented the smoke rising
from melting wax
my mind alive with memories

this night of nights
when family ghosts
drift through the room
and my childhood clutches
the red bag of my heart
with death’s cold fingers

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor
Day of the Dead



Hall of Mirrors

Hall of Mirrors

You walk up the wooden stairs
and there you are, staring at yourself
in the fairground’s distorting mirrors.

Fatter, thinner, shorter, taller, a half-
and-half version, thinner at the top,
squat at the bottom, one of those Xmas
dolls you could flick, but never roll over.

What do we see when we look in the mirror?
Do we see our selves as we really are
or do we see the wretched deformations
of our diminishment?

So depressing to think that, back then,
I might have seen myself as I am now:
hair thinning, forehead larger,
shriveled shanks and wasted muscles,
breathless, when I climb the stairs,
and a butterfly heart that sometimes
flutters and stutters as it seeks the sun.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Hall of Mirrors

Gilt Trip

Gilt Trip

Last night, I packed up my troubles
in my old kit bag, but this morning
my back and shoulders buckle
beneath its ponderous weight.
I take care not to stumble,
especially on the stairs, for if
I stumble, I will surely fall,
and every fall is a precipice
that I will never be able to climb.

I want my feet to take root,
to sink solidly into the floor,
so that even when the wind of change
blows, it will not knock me down.
Downstairs, at my kitchen table,
the sun promises warmth and comfort.

I raise my gaze and rainbows sparkle,
dance on my eye-lashes.
I strive upwards, ever upwards,
and, turning towards the light,
its golden beauty creates in me
this morning hymn of praise.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Gilt Trip

Sisyphus Sings Nabucco

Sisyphus Sings Nabucco

Long gone, those dead days, skeletons now,
their centers collapsed in on themselves
unable to hold fast to time’s hands
circling the clock of ages, that timeless rock.

Long days will come when light will fail
to enlighten, eyes will be dimmed, the burden
will grow heavier with life lying in wait,
to weigh us down with all those lies, each
falsehood a rock added to the daily pile.

Carrying them is one thing. Rolling them up
this hill each day, only to have them roll down,
overnight, forcing us to stoop once more,
not to conquer, but merely to live our lives,
to journey onwards, relentlessly, to endure
from the beginning of the end until the last,
and we must, we will endure to the last.

“Il faut imaginer Sisyphe heureux.”
Albert Camus

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Sisyphus Sings Nabucco