Interesting session this week at Maccwriters. I haven’t been able to go for a while so was pleased to see the new people who were attending. Among them was Amber, all the way from Macclesfield near Adelaide in Australia, small world ain’t it? Another was Marion from Exeter who has her own website selling her books for charity – Green Dragon Publications. Great to meet new people. Great to see hits from elsewhere around the globe as well.
This week in UK we’ve been sweltering in high heat. Being British, I am of course no good in heat (just not genetically evolved for it). Not sure the air con in the library was working and I took to fanning myself with my documents folder, much to Zoe’s amusement. No doubt we will be back to our usual temperature range of ‘Meh’ to freezing next week, so we can return to complaining about that (you know us Brits, it’s all about the weather!)
This week’s poem is another by Charlie – ‘Shark In the Water’
Shark In the Water
My mother says there is a shark in the sea.
I run, held back by waves;
a battalion of water that cannot be unplugged,
the tide fierce and ready to strike me down.
In her haste to reach the shore my mother
knocks me down. I will drown.
Seven years old, I belong to the sea,
another poor unfortunate soul to add to Ursula’s collection
where I cannot be saved by the Little Mermaid.
I taste the millennia, salt water on my tongue,
My mother lifts me to the sand
and I search the ocean
to see if the shark is following.
An ash-grey ring around the iris
darkening to black; the eye’s cover slides
white, slides back, the eye locks
in on you. The prickly closeness
of smell as you offer small gobbets
of meat to the bucket beak,
the fluttering wings, the baby cries.
The softened sounds you speak, the nonsense,
are vocables of assurance.
You offer water; she dips to the vacancy
that liquid is to the eye; her beak
a shellac clack on the pot, then locates it;
the pink of her mouth, the snake-like tongue
lift and drip, lift and drip with it.
To sense her close, and growing away in this.
© Michael Murray (Highly Commended Entry for the RSPB/Rialto Competition 2015)
Many thanks to Michael for sending in his entry as well – the Rialto certainly seems to have inspired a number of our Maccwriters to flex their poetic abilities!
The sheep has its reed out.
Dad says to press the hot mass of pink flesh back inside.
My fingers squelch against the steaming conical,
force each fold of rigid flesh into the sheep’s darkness.
Dizzy from bending down for so long,
I wonder when I will get to wash my hands or
if lunch will be eaten with the worry of e-coli.
Dad sews a truss to her back end:
both farmer and vet
yet still she complains –
bleats and swings herself
as though we’ve inconvenienced her,
this cold April morning
where the white balance is off and sheep hide in bushes,
birth lambs with crowns of gorse,
and all sound leaves the world save for the bleats and cackles.
This is the real beauty of spring,
though lambs frolic and crows bide their time,
the sheep rule here, cast across the field;
a clan of wool, crowned with prolapses
that it is our penance to fix.
© Charles Heathcote (longlisted for the RSPB Rialto Nature Competition)
Water, water, everywhere, and all the boards did shrink.
Water, water, everywhere. To Graham, what’s the link?
Here we are in Lulworth Cove, which nestles down in Dorset.
Day 2 and there’s a panic. Can you guess the source? It’s
when Colin spied some water flowing beneath the door,
watched horrified as inexorably it rippled ‘cross the floor.
The Lady of the House was called to find the tidal source.
Alas, it was no mystery, no need for Inspector Morse.
The master key she used to open up the room next door
and tentatively tiptoed in and started to explore.
Behind the shower curtain, starkers (She broke into a sweat),
Graham was warbling some song by, who else but Wet, Wet, Wet.
The Lady of the House was almost overcome by shock,
with averted eyes she fumbled, found and turned off the stopcock.
So, Graham, next time you’re minded to run hot water in your sink,
don’t put the plug in, mate, or we’ll all be in the drink.
© Phil Poyser
This afternoon’s session with Alison Chisholm went really well. Lovely lady, a great teacher of the craft. To celebrate, what better than a poem? Thanks to Phil for this philosophical little piece.
What does he live on, the spider in the bath?
It’s not a great place for flies to cross his path,
yet he’s fit and healthy and obviously clean,
roams end to end his vast domain from what I’ve seen.
Every ploy he uses of arachnid guile
to coax the nutrients out of bathroom tile,
but when we wish we could soak away the gunge,
Incey Wincey’s there, so we can’t take the plunge !
© Phil Poyser, Allithwaite, 11th. May, 2015
The Maccwriters are very pleased to welcome accomplished poet, Alison Chisholm, who will be taking the class this week. Alison has written a number of collections, has taught creative writing and devises courses for college boards in the north west. She most famously collaborated with the BBC in 2012 to produce a ‘cento’ poem to commemorate the spirit of BBC 2 (featured below). A cento is a patchwork of lines from different poets – you may recognise the last line from Tennyson’s Ulysses.
Much have I travelled in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen,
But still I long to learn tales, marvellous tales,
Of ships and stars and isles where good men rest,
How others fought to forge my world.
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? What wild ecstasy?
How far the unknown transcends the what we know.
We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
To feel the blood run through the veins and tingle
Where busy thought and blind sensation mingle.
Come, my friends, ‘tis not too late,
For we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems;
To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.
For those of you wishing to attend, we will be gathering upstairs at Macclesfield Library, 1.45 – 4.00 – it promises to be an eye-opening and valuable session. £4 only to non-members, tea, coffee and biscuits provided.
Head down I struggled step by step up knife-edge mountain tracks
When I came across a stalwart Drong;
(The Tibetan name for Yak)
He stood there in his majesty his horns a metre wide,
his girth foretold a tragedy if passed on either side.
After many hours climbing I wasn’t for turning back,
it was clear to me as it was to him,
it was either me or the yak.
I never met a yak before and was wary of his looks,
but was fortified by knowledge I’d remembered from some books,
was this in fact bos mutus the domesticated yak,
or indeed was this bos grunniens with a risk of wild attack.
I studied him quite slyly from the corner of my eye,
his colour was unusual and he stood two metres high.
The colour! The colour! I cried with joy, and again cried with dismay,
for he was the endangered golden yak, the colour of summer kissed hay.
One hundred and seventy golden yak still roam this diminishing earth,
my moments euphoric discovery left me as his eyes studied mine for their worth.
I returned his gaze and stood my ground, my reflection strong in his eyes,
he pawed the ground once, bowed his head and, lay down to my surprise.
He beckoned to me with a toss of his head to climb over his shaggy back,
which I nervously did and upon my dismount
Oh, I said what to do now? As I stood between horns and hoof.
There was no way forward, no way back, I simply couldn’t move.
Then one by one they all lay down, in a shag pile horn rimmed track.
And on an over, and over an on, I climbed across ninety nine yak.
All heading toward our destiny on track with no going back.
When finally I reached my over night stay,
my story was fuel for the fire,
but the locals mocked my magical tale,
now I ramble the mountains in ire,
a camera to capture my golden yak though the odds against it grow higher;
the less I see, the more I yearn, to satisfy my desire.
I’ll search the tracks to track down my yaks
their Golden Fleeces my quest,
until my memory’s a fantasy tale,
vanishing with yaks and Tibet.
© Howard Beaumont 2015
Image: courtesy of travelwayoflife/creative commons