Two shadows, at three in the morning, their faces masked, shifty in the moonlight, slip soundless over snow, as they move towards the bird feeders.
They huddle together, forming a darker patch. I watch the feeders move, but cannot see the seed nor hear it as it falls.
The feeders empty, they move again towards the back porch, climb the steps, and settle once more.
I know that by morning, all traces of seed will be gone, devoured by Dyson and Hoover, scavengers and professional seed removers.
Comment: Light Breaks
“Light breaks where no sun shines…” but sometimes it takes a long time to happen. The name of my blog is rogermoorepoet and it’s main function is to showcase my poetry, above all, to my friends and followers. In my efforts to publish in print form, I have neglected to pay attention to the main function of this blog – poetry. Why? Because when I submit poems I always find the phrase – ‘must be unpublished – including on social media’! So I stopped publishing poetry on my poetry blog and on other social media. Okay, okay. I know. I am an idiot. BUT – light has now broken where no sun shone – Dylan Thomas, of course, another Swansea Boy, and as of today poetry is back. A big thank you to any and all who have been waiting for its return. Give me some encouragement – let me know if you like what I am doing – paintings and poetry!
What do authors do when they send manuscripts to agents or presses? They have several choices. For example, they can listen to the sound of silence. Listen carefully to the paining above. What does it say to you? Absolutely nothing. Quite. It doesn’t communicate. It’s the sound of silence.
Another choice, they can read and re-read Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Alas, in this case there are many Godots out there and all of them are super-busy gazing at their navels – and I don’t mean oranges. Some indulge in the wonderful world of “Mirror, mirror, on the wall…” and we all know what the answer is to that question. And we know what happened to Narcissus when he saw himself in the river water. Or have we forgotten? Our failure to share cultures is also a sound of silence – two solitudes, gazing at each other, neither one having anything in common with the other one, except maybe the weather. And we can’t always agree on that.
A third choice, they can climb into their dustbins, Queen’s English for garbage cans, and stand there waiting for someone to put the lid on so they can go back to sleep. Allusion / elusion – you don’t know what I am talking about? Well, maybe we are living in two separate solitudes. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
A fourth choice, they can take up painting, and scribbling, and drawing, and doing all sorts of things. But, if the phone rings and you don’t recognize the number – don’t pick up the phone. It’s probably a fraudulent scam call. And if you don’t know the e-mail address, put it in Spam and then block it. It’s probably some bot from another country trying to trap you into giving them your bank account details and signing your savings away. Whoever it is or they are , I doubt if it’s an agent or an editor!
Rugby Football is a wonderful game. It has laws, not rules, and yes, like almost every rugby player I have known, I have broken the laws, and got away with it. How? Stepping off-side, handling the ball in the ruck (old laws), blocking and obstructing ‘accidentally on purpose’. I asked one of my instructors on a national coaching coach whether we should be coaching school age players to play outside the laws. His reply was most instructive. “The laws – there’s what the law book says, what the referee is calling on the day, and what you can get away with. You get away with what you can.” He was a national level coach – so much for the laws of rugby.
There is a difference between the rule of law, specific laws, and rules. Life in various boarding schools, twelve years, from age six to eighteen, taught me that rules were made to be broken. No talking after lights out. Whisper away – just don’t let yourself be heard by the prefects or monitors listening outside the dormitory door. No hands in trouser pockets. So – stick them in your coat pockets. No smoking – well I didn’t smoke, never have. But I know many who did but very few who got caught. No talking in prep – so I taught myself and a couple of friends basic sign language – the alphabet mainly. You may not place butter on your bread – so put the butter on the bread and turn it upside down when you eat. And no, that wasn’t me. No reading in the dormitory after lights out – so, go to the toilet, with a book in your pajamas and sit there and read Lady Chatterley’s Lover for as long as you want. You may only wear ties of a quiet color. So, wear a V-neck sweater and make sure the nude lady on your quietly colored tie cannot be seen by the masters. It is forbidden to enter a public house. So, sit outside in the garden. It is forbidden to drink beer. So, order some cider – it was the West Country, after all. And remember that rules, especially school rules, are often asinine, ie -stupid, like an ass – and made to be broken.
“The law is an ass is a derisive expression said when the the rigid application of the letter of the law is seen to be contrary to common sense.” Well, that is quite explicit, as is this – “This proverbial expression is of English origin and the ass being referred to here is the English colloquial name for a donkey, not the American ‘ass’, which we will leave behind us at this point. Donkeys have a somewhat unjustified reputation for obstinance and stupidity that has given us the adjective ‘asinine’. It is the stupidly rigid application of the law that this phrase calls into question.” Both quotes come from the following site – and I am indebted to the writers thereof – https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/the-law-is-an-ass.html
It is well worthwhile to remember, not just the law, but the spirit of the law. I can honestly say that I have never broken a law or a rule in such a way as to cause someone else to get hurt, physically or emotionally. Play up, play up, and play life’s game – ludum ludite – I have always done so – and always have I stayed within the spirit of rule or law.
So, I am in anti-prompt mode this morning. Why should I tell you about my shoes when I want to talk about my socks? They are so closely associated anyway and you can’t have one without the other – well, you most certainly can, but it’s never quite the same thing.
So, I was walking the Camino de Santiago / the Road to St. James, back in the day, just being a Pilgrim and making a quick Pilgrim’s Progress, while on the bus, but a much slower one when I decided to get off the bus, put on my shoes, and walk. No, I didn’t have hiking or walking boots, just a very comfortable pair of sneakers and a very thick pair of socks.
I left the hotel early and set out, on foot, from Leon to Astorga. The sun shone. The heat rose up from the tarmac. I sought the shade from the poplar trees that lined the road and rapidly realized how popular they are for the long-distance walker. And I sweated. I carried my pilgrim possessions in an Army and Navy Stores backpack. It didn’t weight much, but it grew heavier as the day went on. I had expected to meet people along the way, but I didn’t. No other pilgrims. A farmer – I asked him if this was the road – and he said yes. A ragged looking priest from a small roadside chapel who invited me to spend the night. Two dogs that ran down the hill and barked at me and then ran back up again.
By the time I got to Hospital de Orbigo, just down the road from Puente de Orbigo, I was tired. I went into the first hotel I found, asked for a room, and got one. The owner gave me a funny look and let me find my own way to a room, very isolated, at the end of a long corridor. When I got there, I decided to have a shower, and took my clothes off, starting with my shoes. As I took my shoes off, it hit me – and it was a combination of week old kippers, soaked in the Bishop’s Gaiters, and anointed with long-past-it raw milk / lait cru Camembert. My sox had the pox.
I stripped off, left my socks on, and paddled in the shower. It did no good at all. I put shampoo in the toilet bowl, stood in the bowl, stamped up and down as if I were trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath were indeed stored – it did no good at all. I flushed the toilet multiple times and still those poxy sox refused to release their ripeness. I took them off, laid them out to dry, to see if that would help, and went down to the bar for supper and a brandy (or two).
When I came back to my room, inspiration struck. I whistled- as if calling my dog. The sox got up of their own accord and – I kid you not – walked towards me. I opened the garbage bag and pointed to it, and the sox walked right in. I tied the bag up with a plastic tie, added two more plastic bags outside the first one, went happily to sleep, got up next morning, and walked to the bus stop, abandoning my socks in their safety blanket for the hotel owner to find.
Moral of the story – if you want to get to your destination, don’t get off the bus until your journey ends.
“What do you do with a dirty car, dear Liza?” “You wash it, dear Henry.” “Where do I wash it, Dear Liza?” “In a car wash, dear Henry.”
So, off I went to the car wash. I chose a warm day, the sun was shining, and the car wash was packed. The line-up went twice around the yard and I could see other cars circling, their drivers looking anxious. I came home – the car unwashed. The next day it was the same. The day after, a working day, I got up early, had a cup of coffee and was at the car wash before 9:00 am, only to find a large sign announcing Sorry – Car Wash Closed. I came home again.
This morning, I again got up early, drove into town, went to the gas station, and stopped at a pump. I didn’t want to get gas if I couldn’t get a car wash – reciprocal points and all that – so I went into the office and asked if the car wash was working. It was. I filled up with gas, went in to pay, and ordered a car wash. A triumph – or was it?
I drove round to the car wash entrance and typed in my code. The light turned green, the door lifted up, and I drove slowly in. No undercoat wash to greet me. No lights came on. The door didn’t close behind me. The mechanical octopus didn’t wave its arms in the direction of my car. I drove out, backwards, the way I had come in, and tried again. Nothing.
I typed in the code once more only to get the Illegal Code sign. I pressed the button on the Intercom, A young lady answered and said she’d be right out and out she came. She looked at the machine, the open door, the lack of lights and told me she’d find somebody to fix it. And she did.
A minute or two later, the man who had first served me, re-appeared. He asked me a quick couple of questions, then walked bravely into the car wash. He tapped the door. Inspected the octopus, double checked the screen, then went to a large switch board at the back of the car wash. He fiddled around, pressed some buttons, the light came on – and so did the water – soaking him from top to bottom. He flicked another switch and the water stopped.
He told me to wait while he got me a new code. Then he punched it in for me. The lights came on, I drove in, everything happened the way it was meant to, and I drove out through the hot air blower with a nice clean car. As I came out, a rather soggy car wash attendant waved at me. I smiled and waved back. then I drove home – my car as good as new and me safe and warm inside.
I searched for the blog prompt, but I couldn’t find it. Not by name and I don’t remember the number, nor do I know how to search for it. So – here I am, on the sea shore, stranded, looking for something I may never find. Yet an echo of it has found me.
I googled ‘candy’ to find out what it meant because when I think ‘candy’ I think of Candy Floss, that long, thinly-spun web of sticky pink sweetness sold at the fairgrounds and the ice-cream stalls of my childhood beaches, back in Gower. Barred and banned it was, and seen as a source of cavities and visits to those much-to-be-feared, brutal, ex-Armed Forces dentists who terrified our childhood while working in those days in the NHS.
Candies, in my Olde English language, were called sweets. In post-war Britain, where rationing was the unwelcome rule, sweets were rare, for they cost us coupons, and were therefore, very, very precious. In those days, my grandfather had many friends and his friends were priceless. On Saturday mornings he would take me to Swansea Market, the one that had been bombed during the war. It had been rebuilt but, in those days, remained roofless. There he would work a shift at Green’s Sweet Stall while someone took a break – and I helped him. We would take the orders, count and weigh the sweets, take the cash, count it, check it, place it in the till, and hand over the correct change along with small, white paper packets that contained the hand-made sweets.
We received no money for this pleasurable work. However, when our duty was done, I would be given my choice of hard-boiled sweets. My favourites were those red and white striped sweets, called winter warmers, laden with the lusty tang of cloves that lingered long in the mouth. We held competitions to see who could make their sweet last longest. And woe betide the losers who cracked them, or swallowed them whole, for they were mocked and forced to watch, minute by minute, the lucky ones whose sweets dwindled on and on, shown off, paper thin, on tongue tip, for all to see.
But better than any candies were the Cockle Women in their tall black hats and red Welsh shawls who came all the way from Penclawdd on Saturdays with their baskets of cockles and their buckets of laverbread – bara lawr – at thruppence a pound. Laverbread – Welsh Caviar, Richard Burton used to call it, a delicacy to be savoured for breakfast or lunch and sweeter to the enthusiast and devotee than any candied sweets, even winter warmers.
There I was – with my trusty snow-blower blowing the snow – and I shifted gear to go backwards – and my glove caught – and the snow-blower kept on coming – straight at me – and there wasn’t room to manoeuvre -manoeuver – maneuver – aka I couldn’t get out of the way – and the snow bank behind me caught me just at the back of the knees – and I sat down in the snow – oh dear – luckily I let go of the gear lever and the throttle lever – but the machine was almost on top of me – and I couldn’t get up – so I called for help – but no help came – and I tried to pull on the machine with one hand – and I put the other on an ice patch in the snow and that hand went through – so I am sitting there – can’t stop laughing – and then my beloved appears – and she brings me my walking stick – and she moves the snow blower forward – and then she gives me the stick – in my left hand – lifts me and pushes – while I lift with the left and pull with the right – and I have pulled a cork from a champagne bottle more easily than I pulled myself out of that snow – but together we did it – and oh was I wet – I had to finish the blowing – go inside – and change my jeans – and I am still laughing at the thought of myself – sitting there in that snow – and I needed to pee so badly – as the cold and damp crept in and – what if there had been nobody there to help – or what if it had been windy and my cries had not been heard – and what if we fall – as so many others have done before – fall to rise no more – and what if – “if – if – if – if – onions climbed a cliff – potatoes would rise – with watery eyes – if it wasn’t for if -” and that’s what my grandfather always sang to me when I asked him “what if…?” – so- what if … but don’t answer – because we’ll never know –
Sun Absence Depression – People complain about the absence of the sun – and so do I. Five sun appearances between early December and the end of January. A sun glimpse, so to speak, pale coin between clouds, a sudden shadow that appears on the wall and vanishes before you can catch it. Do these count? Sun glimpses, mind you, and even less sunny days.
Snow, Sleet, Ice Pellets, Freezing Rain – Take your choice. The snow itself isn’t too bad. The snow blower takes care of that. But not when it rains on top of the snow, then freezes. Not when ice pellets weight it down and make it the consistency of wet sand on a wintry beach. My neighbor broke his snow blower trying to shift the mess. I was willing to risk the snow blower, but not my health. I couldn’t even get the blower out of the garage and into the mess that masqueraded as snow. I sat on the back bumper of the car, huffed and puffed, and decided not to risk it. And as for the freezing rain – my beloved had to put crampons on her shoes to be able to walk the ice and take the garbage to the end of the drive. As for blowing the ice that had fallen on the snow – the snow blower grunted, and groaned and complained as it slipped and slid all around – and so did I.
Rejection – Dejection – “Paper your walls with rejections.” Well, I won’t do that as we have just had the walls repainted. That said, when I checked my progress files this morning, out of 95 submissions, 93 had been rejected. Does the 2% make up for the 98%? Well, 5 more rejections and I’ll let you know.
Inflation – Gas. Luxury foods. Alcohol. You name, it and I will complain about it. And if I don’t, every day I go out shopping I see and hear someone complaining about the rising cost of just about everything out there. Being on a more or less fixed pension doesn’t help much either. Luckily, we don’t have to make choices yet, like some pensioners, and working people, are doing in the Untied Kingdom [sick]. Eat or heat? Food or medicine? Dog food or cat food? They have been staples for pensioners in the UK for a long, long time. Cheap and nourishing, though prices are rising, and taste disguised in a nice curry sauce. I kid you not.
Top Ten – well, I guess I could go on and on. But I won’t. Four reasons to cry are enough. Today, the sun is shining (positive). The overnight temperature was -25C / -13F, but it’s rising in the sunshine -15C / +5F as I type (positive), and I don’t have to go out in the cold (very positive), and I don’t have to snow blow today (very, very positive). So, may we all walk on the sunny side of life, find a silver lining to each and every cloud, and carry on regardless. It’s better than the alternative.
“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” Oscar Wilde.
“The dreamers by day are dangerous people, for they are the ones who make their dreams come true.” T. E. Lawrence.
Two interesting and contrasting quotes on dreamers. They seem to contradict each other – but do they? How do we dream? What do we dream of when we dream? What does the word ‘dream’ really mean? How can it change, that meaning when a person announces in a sharp, sarcastic voice: “In your dreams.”? Were the Everly Brothers right when they sang their version of dream, dream, dream?
There is no right and wrong with dreams. Some dreams come at night. They rise from deep within our resting – restless minds, asking questions, answering questions, doubling down on what we did, or didn’t do. Some dreams are obsessive and occur again and again. These are individual to each sleeper and cannot be interpreted, en masse, by a dictionary of dreams. Other night dreams creep in through the bedroom window. These may not be our dreams – they may be the dreams of other people, come to disturb us as we sleep. These can be dangerous dreams, disturbing moments, and that’s why the indigenous have created dream-catchers that will snare those dreams and prevent them from entering.
Other dreams come by day. Day-dreaming is a rite of passage for many young children, trapped in boring school rooms with an ageing teacher droning on and on. “Knowledge is that which passes from my notes to your notes without going through anyone’s head.” I woke up enough from my day dream during that particular first-year lecture to note those words in my notebook. They were the only notes I took in that class and I day dreamed my way though a year of that man’s pseudo-lectures.
But the dreams we dream by day – yes, they can indeed be dangerous – because we can make them happen. One person dreams of being a doctor and, against all the odds, that person becomes one. Another visualizes – another form of day-dreaming – breaking a world record. And does so – such people fulfill their day-dream. Some, like Don Quixote, dream the impossible dream. These are fantasists whose dreams will never come true, for they are based on unrealities, and not founded on the essential truths of real life.
“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight.” Much as I love this quote, I am disturbed by the adverb ‘only’. It is so limiting. Dreamers, as I have tried to show, can find their way by day as well. “His punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” This, too, I find enigmatic and disturbing. Why should dreamers be punished when they can also be rewarded? Why is seeing the dawn a punishment? Why is seeing the dawn before the rest of the world a sort of double punishment? And why does the dawn punish people? In order to answer that question, we must define the dawn! Maybe we’ll do that in another post.