Category Archives: poetry

It’s time I gave erotic fiction a thwack!

Given the topic, I though I should have at least one picture of a, you know, cute cat.

Given the topic, I though I should have at least one picture of a, you know, cute cat.

Everyone’s doing it. (Ooer Madam.) It’s time I did it too.

But where, how and with whom? Or what?

Maybe I’ll do best to follow the crowd, but (being very busy and important) I don’t have time to read the whole of 50 Shades of Grey – never mind the sequels. Luckily there’s an abbreviated version which I can share with you here. And, fancy that, it’s a special version aimed at men.

So read on and enjoy. Or should that be: Read on – and Tingle! (By the way, a “zimmer” is a walking frame.)

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY – (a husband’s point of view)

The missus bought a Paperback
down Shepton Mallet way
I had a look inside her bag
… T’was “Fifty Shades of Grey”

Well I just left her to it
And at ten I went to bed
An hour later she appeared
The sight filled me with dread

In her left she held a rope
And in her right a whip
She threw them down upon the floor
And then began to strip

Well fifty years or so ago
I might have had a peek
But Mabel hasn’t weathered well
She’s eighty four next week

Watching Mabel bump and grind
Could not have been much grimmer,
And things then went from bad to worse
She toppled off her Zimmer

She struggled back upon her feet
A couple minutes later
She put her teeth back in and said
“I am a dominator!”

Now if you knew our Mabel
You’d see just why I spluttered
I’d spent two months in traction
For the last complaint I’d uttered

She stood there nude and naked
Bent forward just a bit
I went to hold her, sensual like,
but stood on her left tit

Mabel screamed, her teeth shot out
My god what had I done!?
She moaned and groaned then shouted out
“Step on the other one!!”

Well readers, I can’t tell no more
About what occurred that day
Suffice to say my jet black hair
Turned fifty shades of grey

That work of classical literature came from here. And I suppose you could call this the musical version. It’s funny.

Right – I’m now in the zone. I even have a title for my Continue reading

24 Comments

Filed under poetry

Mornings at Blackwater

Mary Oliver

I’ve written a thriller called Blackwatertown. Some pivotal action, romance and revelation takes place at the local Blackwater Lake. So I was very pleased to receive from my mate Kirsty, some poems her Dad had spotted.

They’re by Mary Oliver and talk about her own Blackwater Pond and the wonder and joy and challenge of living.

My Blackwater is both real and fictional and can be found inside my book and on the Irish border. I’m not sure where Mary Oliver’s Blackwater is. Can anyone enlighten me?

Mary herself is an acclaimed poet from Ohio. Here are two of her poems.

Mornings at Blackwater

For years, every morning, I drank
from Blackwater Pond.
It was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt,
the feet of ducks.

And always it assuaged me
from the dry bowl of the very far past.

What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
darling citizen.

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,

and put your lips to the world.
And live
your life.

The third stanza, darling citizen, is wonderful, is it not? I have a quotation from Napoleon at the beginning of my story at the moment: “What is history but a fable agreed upon?” Maybe I should change it – or add to it Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under My Writing, poetry

Does this make me… hardcore?

Kim Hyesoon

Last Friday I immersed myself in poetry read aloud at the Poetry Parnassus. It claims to be the UK’s largest ever gathering of poets. (Not including pubs surely?) At least one poet from every country competing in the 2012 London Olympics. It’s big.

So does even turning up make me an intellectual?

Let’s raise the stakes. I sat through repeated bouts of poetry, in Korean by South Korean poet Kim Hyesoon. So that’s Korean poetry in Korean. That must make me a hardcore intellectual.

She said, through a translator, that she’d only read short ones, the better for us to get the meaning in translation. She may need help with the translation of the word “short”.  I can tell you that she is very illustrious and pioneering and that it was an unrepeatable experience. Not to be repeated anyway.

Does that make me a philistine? (Though not in a Palestinian sense.)

Wole Soyinka thinking to himself: “Are two phones enough? Maybe I should get a third one just in case.”

Next up – Nigerian Nobel literature prize winner Wole Soyinka. I’ve read quite a bit of him. I’ve even seen him before. But the highlight of his performance was when a mobile phone started ringing during one of his readings – and the phone owner would NOT turn it off. It wasn’t until Wole came to the end of his poem that we discovered the culprit. It was Wole’s own phone ringing – conveniently amplified by the nearby microphone.

We laughed. He laughed. He turned it off. Then he took out his other phone and turned that off too.

The man has TWO phones Continue reading

22 Comments

Filed under poetry

Ted Hughes at Poets Corner in Westminster Abbey

Last night I joined the ceremony dedicating the memorial to Ted Hughes at Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. (See photo at the bottom.) It felt historic – and thanks to Seamus Heaney and Juliet Stevenson, also moving Continue reading

27 Comments

Filed under art, poetry

How many different words for snow, death… and farts?

Eskimos and Inuit are reputed to have many/seven/50/100 different words for snow. Though it may be a tundric myth. (And anyway, don’t we have snow, blizzard, sleet & slush – OK that’s only four, and I’m not sure about the last two.)

But anywhere with an unusually high number of different words detailing aspects of a phenomenon interests me. It evokes poetic lists. Like these from Belfast poet Michael Longley – The Ice-Cream Man.

Rum and raisin, vanilla, butterscotch, walnut, peach:

You would rhyme off the flavours. That was before

They murdered the ice-cream man on the Lisburn Road

And you bought carnations to lay outside his shop.

I named for you all the wild flowers of the Burren

I had seen in one day: thyme, valerian, loosestrife,

Meadowsweet, tway blade, crowfoot, ling, angelica,

Herb robert, marjoram, cow parsley, sundew, vetch,

Mountain avens, wood sage, ragged robin, stitchwort,

Yarrow, lady’s bedstraw, bindweed, bog pimpernel.

You can listen Continue reading

15 Comments

Filed under art, language, poetry

Art Saves Lives

What you could win - note the Picasso in the top left corner.

Fancy picking up a Picasso for a tenner? That’s just £10.00. Or an early photograph of Kate Moss? Or a limited edition from the late Beryl Cook? Or my favourite, Anita Klein? Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under art, friends, poetry, theatre

William Shatner v Sarah Palin & Bernie Taupin

I always enjoy William Shatner‘s album Has Beenwith Ben Folds. (Nick Hornby – that man again – co-wrote one of the songs.) Shatner’s explanations are good value too if you get hold of the music/interview sampler. So, in the spirit of Has Been…

The great William Shatner does…     Rocket Man.

Or, more recently, William Shatner does… Sarah Palin.

(I saw these both at Patrick Madrid.)

7 Comments

Filed under Music, poetry

What (Irish books) I’ve been reading 21st November 2009

Far Green Fields: Fifteen Hundred Years of Irish Travel Writing
Forget the proverb. You definitely should judge this book by its cover. The illustration is beautifully conceived and appropriate to the wide-ranging delightful tales of Irish travel inside. The cover artist is Philip Blythe (from Ireland, moved to Australia). The publisher is Blackstaff. I salute you both. (Unfortunately, nowhere could I find a good copy of the book’s cover to use in this post, so I’ve used a different Philip Blythe picture of Killyleagh castle in Co. Down.) Meanwhile, editor Bernard Share has put together a bunch of exiles, explorers, soldiers, deportees, imperialists, rebels, playwrights, actors and others, men and women, who wandered the world and wrote about their wanderings. You’ll not be surprised that the collection kicks off with St Brendan the Navigator (wasn’t he the first European to make it to America?) and includes the intrepid cyclist and muleteer Dervla Murphy. But apart from some flighty Earls, the action happens mainly in the 1700s, 1800s and 1900s.

Luggage – by Peter Hollywood. It’s a long short story about a Northern Irish family’s driving holiday round France. On the surface, nothing out of the ordinary happens on this well observed family holiday. But a sense of creeping unease follows the father. It could be merely that hard-to-shift Troubles anxiety, or perhaps someone really is out to get them.

The News from Ireland and Other Stories (King Penguin) – by William Trevor. Short stories of regret, fear, loss, loneliness, alienation, passing youth. Not a bundle of laughs, but then, hey, that’s life sometimes. In Trevor land though, that’s life all the time. However, there’s gentleness too and the small ways in which people interact physically and emotionally are captured perfectly.

New Selected Poems 1968-1994 – by Paul Muldoon. Sure he wrote lyrics for Warren Zevon, and appeared on The Colbert Report. But it’s his poetry that I return to again and again. He writes about his quoof – a family term for a hot water bottle. (In our house we’ve invented the term broast – somewhere between bread and toast, ie very lightly done.)  Somebody else said about Muldoon: For sheer fun,verve,wickedness and grace, he has no rivals. So here’s an example. Just a wee quick short one:

Ireland

The Volkswagen parked in the gap,

But gently ticking over.

You wonder if it’s lovers

And not men hurrying back

Across two fields and a river.

What I am about to read:

Mystery Man by the prolific and funny Colin Bateman. The hero is a bookshop owner who turns private eye. But most excitingly (to me now) is that the shop he owns is No Alibis – a real life mystery bookshop on Belfast’s Botanic Avenue. I’ve been in it! The hero offered me a cup of tea! (He’s one of the charming men of Ireland.) Or did he? That is – is the real owner the same as the fictional owner? I’m looking forward to finding out. I’ll just take a little peek inside the book before I start reading to look for clues… Yes! Page 7. The owner makes a visitor a cup of coffee. It must be him! In no other bookshop have I been offered a cup of tea or coffee for nothing. (By the way, there are other good bookshops in Belfast. I must get round to telling you about them in a future post.)

And, as soon as I get my hands on it, I’ll be starting Soldiers of Folly: The IRA Border Campaign 1956-1962 by Barry Flynn. It’s about the ’50s campaign, which spawned the song The Patriot Game, and less forgiveably the film from the Tom Clancy book Patriot Games.

1 Comment

Filed under poetry, What I'm Reading

Deadly verses

poppy Is this the most dangerous, even despicable, poem ever? You’ll have heard it most likely at   some Remembrance Day service or Armistice Day commemoration. It’s called In Flanders Fields. John McCrae wrote it in May 1915, on the occasion of the death in battle of a friend. The poet himself died in 1918. Here’s the poem.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

I last heard it said aloud at our village service marking the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Some children performed it in the village hall. Overall the service was too religious for me, but I accept that as part of the cultural mores of England. I know it deters other people though, who just want to remember and respect the sacrifices made by their forbears without having to bow their heads in front of priests or ministers.

And I fully embrace the rightness of remembering. The importance of marking past sacrifice, the better to not in future waltz gleefully into new carnage. So the talk given during the service by a youth leader was perfectly pitched – vivid, poignant, educative and heartfelt. He reminded those gathered, especially the children, that those who died in Flanders Field were young people not much older than they are now, just like them, not some sepia-toned figures of myth or history book.  So far so good.

John McCrae c.1914

John McCrae c.1914. Canadian poet, physician & soldier. He wrote In Flanders Fields in memory of a fallen friend.

But then some of our children performed THAT POEM to their school friends and to the rest of us. So what’s the problem? The first two verses are fine. It’s the final exhortation to “take up our quarrel with the foe.” And then we’re warned: “If ye break faith with us who die/We shall not sleep, though poppies grow/In Flanders fields.”

So there you have it. Keep fighting or you’ll be letting down your dead comrades. Peace and resolution of conflict are relegated in importance below the need to avoid dishonouring the dead. And what better way, suggests the poem, to honour those glorious dead than to add to their number.

It’s the siren call of the dead-enders, the true believers, the last-ditchers. In their world the dead always trump the living. And the only way to free yourself of survivor’s guilt is to go over the top. So there’s no-one to lean on the brakes.

Sometimes, granted, you have to fight. But shouldn’t the main point of remembrance be to avoid making the same mistakes? To remember the awfulness of it all. To remember that the living are more important than the dead. We should respect the latter, but protect the former.

So I’m tired of hearing that poem. The story behind it is poignant. The impact has been huge. It inspired the tradition of selling and wearing poppies. But instead of “In Flanders Fields”, next year I’d prefer something by Wilfred Owen. Dulce et Decorum Est will do fine. It’s about a gas attack and its aftermath. Here’s an excerpt:

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

7 Comments

Filed under In the village, life, poetry

Jinx Lennon

Jinx Lennon

Jinx Lennon

Jinx Lennon, aka Dundalk’s punk poet. Nothing to do with the Blackwatertown book. But gives an insight into Ireland you might not get on the mainstream media. http://shop.septictigerrecords.com/npreview.html is where you can hear some samples. The best songwriter in the country according to Christy Moore apparently.

2 Comments

Filed under Music, poetry