Poem: a ring of fire

Poem: a ring of fire

a ring of fire

– a lament for Australia January 2020

red skies

red sands

red seas 

people flee to the beaches

huddle in boats

roads are closed and power lines fail 

fuel tanks run dry

the blood red blaze rips through homes and forest

while contracts and denial ensure 

the rape of the rich red earth 

continues 

in Sydney cricket players don black arm bands

as high winds threaten to close the ring

animals die in silence

not knowing

this is what hell looks like

 

anne_enith_cooper_poetry

Image: Greece November 2019 by George Natsioulis. Instagram george_natsioulis

 

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25 Notes on Becoming by Boluwatife Afolabi from https://www.addastories.org/

25 Notes on Becoming by Boluwatife Afolabi from https://www.addastories.org/

25 NOTES ON BECOMING

by Boluwatife Afolabi

‘I confess, like a true poet, that I am only broken by the sources of things’

– Peter Akinlabi

 

I
I write to tell you that
the walls of my bones
are made of contention and
I am always situated between desires
that threaten to break
or mould me.

 

II
I write to tell you that
I am not the cartographer of memory
and that sometimes,
I forget my way home and
stumble into women who offer
to teach me the ways of water:
How to be soft,
how healing comes in waves,
how to open my body into the sea and
drown all the things that hurt.

 

III
I write to tell you that
my love is a nomad and
while wandering here in Ibadan
it fell into the hands of a woman
wearing your face.

 

IV
I write to tell you that
the second name for movement
is uncertainty.

 

V
I write to tell you about hope.
How it is a dream
where children grow into the belly
of a barren woman,
how she wakes in the morning
smelling of loss and longing.

 

VI
I write to tell you that
scars are a lot like borders.
How my body is a map filled with
dirt and death and
there is a sea in my eyes that takes
and takes and on moonless nights
how I ache and ache beneath my hills
and valleys and call all the names of
god painted on my tongue for the touch
of mother and fullness,
how my prayers come back to me
dressed in a void.

 

VII
I write to tell you that
while writing this,
language betrayed me and my mind
assumed the form of a tabula rasa.

 

VIII
I write to tell you that
silence is the name
for protest and prison.

 

IX
I write to tell you that
a river once came to life in the
road between my palms
(some people say it is also a form of worship)
so I closed my eyes,
named all my fears
and gifted them to the deep.
They came flowing back singing my name.

 

X
I write to tell you that
I carry all your names in my mouth
now and my tongue don’t fit into this
small space anymore and mother said
new songs don’t float out of mouths
heavy with names and children here
don’t dance to night songs because
all the birds have drowned in silence and
the night is longer here in Ojoo and
I still melt into fear when your name escapes
from the gap between my teeth and
dissolves into the wind.

 

XI
I write to tell you
that old words don’t have to die
for new words to live.

 

XII
I write to tell you that
all the children are going or have gone
and our dreams have now run out of colour.

 

XIII
I write to tell you about unknown languages.
How they fold themselves under tongues
that have grown weary of seeking god,
how grown men trapped in a well of glossolalia,
are screaming
and dancing
and singing
and drowning under the weight of heavy tongues.

 

XIV
I write to tell you that
I am a poem in exile,
hiding my grief in metaphors
breaking the weight of my loss
into syllables and rhymes,
because a man must not cry
this is how I have learnt to hide my body
from water, cover my wounds with
Cauliflower to stop my softness from
spilling into mud,
because a man must not cry.

 

XV
I write to tell you that
I wrote a song for all the
boys we used to dance with
that didn’t come back home,
they say songs are voices that didn’t die.
I tried to sing lost boys back home,
but I lost my voice singing.

 

XVI
I write to tell you that
I wrote another love song
for all my old lovers
and poured it into
the beak of a bird
but the bird died of grief.

 

XVII
I write to tell you that
I have built many rooms in people
that won’t stay
and called them home.

 

XVIII
I write to tell you
about the way bodies open up to love
vulnerable
unguarded
like flower petals waiting
for sunlight or water,
the way I left my body open for god
waiting,
waiting
waiting.

 

XIX
I write to tell you
about my sin
how it is cheap.
How I sometimes wear it like a hat
for everyone to see
or paint it black and call it guilt,
tuck it safely under my shiny clothes
watch it stick to my black skin and
dissolve into my bones
till,
till my body
becomes too heavy for ablution.

 

XX
I write to tell you that
in Ondo,
a boy embraced the softness of another boy
and men, carrying the name of god on
their lips rushed to kiss him
with kisses of fire.
They said
his body looked like sin,
they said
fire purifies everything.

 

XXI
I write to tell you
to battle forgetfulness this way:
Trap a shred of memory in a fist
swallow it whole and
call it a requiem
or a dirge
or an elegy
tell them it’s for the children we forgot to name
in Baga and Damboa and Kummabza and Garkin Fulani
because our tongues grew weary of naming names,
tell them how we bought dolls for the girls
and asked them to paint where it hurt the most,
tell them our girls painted everywhere.

 

XXII
I write to tell you, lover
that my body is an endless sea of desire
and by god,
when you laugh
my body caves into itself
and my heart seems to melt into water.

 

XXIII
I write to tell you that
I have wandered and wondered
and called salvation many names—
Eros
Ninkasi
Yeshua.

 

XXIV
I write to tell you about bodies
that have forgotten the way home because
home is a bird in the mouth of a coffin
or a child in the face of a gun
or a boat in the embrace of a storm
or an empty room smelling of
stale prayers and dying songs
because home is another name for loss
and to remember is to betray a body
and gift it to grief again.

 

XXV
Finally,
I write to tell you
about how I roused my body to life
after it fell into Nadir.
How I sat it under dripping honey and
called it sweet names,
beautiful, bonny, beloved
gathered my reflection with affection
everywhere I found it,
sang slow songs into the teeth
of all the tired boys inside my bones
and told them:
you are enough
you are enough
you were always enough.

 

https://www.addastories.org/25-notes/

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Extinction Rebellion, London Occupation, a poem by Leslie Stuart Tate

Extinction Rebellion, London Occupation, a poem by Leslie Stuart Tate

Beautiful poem from Leslie Stuart Tate, capturing moments in action and the dialectical notion of how as we seek to make change we too change, learn and grow in the struggle; “How we made tarmac into garden,/seeding ourselves in the night/and easing up next morning/through drains and cracks/to release soft balsamic fragrance/and love-repeat blooms/ unlocking who we are.”

I love the sense that this is not just a cerebral process but an uncovering, a discovering of our potential. The potential born in us set free by love and action, a beautiful process. Replete in reference, it evokes for me Oliver Tambos “flowers, of the revolution,” Oscar Wilde’s “we are all in the gutter…” and Rumi’s ““Be crumbled. So wild flowers come up where you are. You have been stony for too many years. Try something different.” Yet while doing so entirely original, expressing the essence of XR. This distillation the very definition of poetry.

Extinction Rebellion, London Occupation

(With acknowledgments to Adlestrop, Edward Thomas)

I remember

where we nested on trucks

with our talons drilled into metal

as we sent up wild cries calling to our children,

and they gathered,

rising from their bedrooms

and playgrounds and schoolrooms

to fold their wings around the wounds

and consecrated body of Earth our host.

How we made tarmac into garden,

seeding ourselves in the night

and easing up next morning

through drains and cracks

to release soft balsamic fragrance

and love-repeat blooms

unlocking who we are.

Yes, I remember how we offered ourselves,

sitting cross-legged on stony ground

held together by our songbooks and testimonies

and the rising tide of quiet

on the bridge and in the Square,

and in the silent wait at the Circus for leaf-boat rescue.

And in that minute, as I watched, the air became an Arch,

the sun told the truth; the traffic stopped

and the trees and protestors stood tall

raising a dream-song space with their bodies,

while all the birds

of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire

sang emergency.

Leslie Tate https://leslietate.com/ who adds

This poem is about the April XR occupation of London. It took a long time to write, so I didn’t read it until I was MC-ing a stage during the July and October uprisings. Here’s a link to Blythe Pepino’s song ‘Emergency’, referred to at the end https://soundcloud.com/blythehart/emergency.

#PoetryReadathon

 

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Poem: Bloodlines

Poem: Bloodlines

I began writing the poem below as news of a massacre in Cairo came thru from my facebook friends in Egypt. One in particular was ceaseless in her reporting which was vital to the struggle was Heba, who now works for the Washington Times. This version below was updated for performance and for today.

The courage, passion, compassion, dignity and love of those in the struggle inspired me to begin the poem a version of which was eventually published in one of the Loose Muse Anthologies. Forget which one, which anthology. I was actually really depressed when I put my pen to the page. Not coz of this, just in general. Not sure what crashed me now. Perhaps the combination of a heartbreak at the end of a relationship lost in translation and clearing out our family home after our Dad died.

I remember feeling so impotent, being so far away. My heart tearing. Thinking I can’t write, can’t do anything, my writing is crap anyway, then thru the tears that opened my heart came words.

This was a dark day in Cairo. So many shot, beaten, wounded, killed. Many shot in the eyes, including Ahmed Harara, a dentist who took to the streets in January, gave one eye to the struggle then another on this day. Under orders from SCAF, the military council. He eventually became a citizen journalist.

Things aren’t much better now under Al Sisi, which is why I feel this is still relevant. Lets never forget the power we have united, the courage that we saw in Tahrir. Will never forget those I met in the square in that mellow summer when things coulda gone either way and many knew that.

Heba and Ahmed helped me live again when I was drowning in my sorrows, worse in the visible darkness of a deep depression. My message to them today; I feel the tide is turning again across the world. Good luck with your writing. Never let go of hope, let the light shine even if all it can do is reveal the darkness. Tadamun, Ohabty, Ohaby.

 

Bloodlines – new version for performance, updated 2019

Dedicated to Heba Farouk Mahfouz and Ahmed Harara

 

I’m pulling on my jacket when I notice your status.

Urgent Qasr al Ainy need blood donors immediately. Spread this #Tahrir 21 Nov 22.22

 

Almost 12 hours ago then, and I am almost 12 hours away

from the makeshift hospitals in churches and mosques,

where doctors and nurses attend to the wounded on their hand and knees,

and even if I could cross the miles in an instant…

 

look down, blood is smeared all over my screen,

the blood of the hopeful, the dreamers in Oakland,

Denver, Daara and Homs and now in my beloved al Qahira.

Is blood the currency of our liberation?

 

Scroll, the bodies of Syrian children twist, crumple and fall,

and that blood too wells up and drips onto by desk,

absentmindedly I push the keyboard aside,

hearing the slogan of the revolutions roar from my speakers

ashaab urid isqaat annism, the people demand the fall of the regime.

 

Move the mouse, click you tell us that Ahmed Harara gave one eye in January

and the other on Saturday…   If I could cross the miles in an instant…

I would love to touch again that earth,

where I sat in the summer, in the lull,

under the moonlight and an imperfect victory

with new families, singing rebel songs.

 

We come here all the time now, not just on Fridays

a woman told me, her son asleep in her arms,

we can come here when we want now, this is our now.

Shame creeps up behind my neck no amount of my reminiscence

with return to Ahmed his eyes. Scroll, he sits in the studio,

 

a fresh bandage over his eye and he smiles. He is smiling, smiling!

The dentist, son, brother who may never see again. He is smiling

and he has the voice and vision of angels

#dignity #honour #courage. If only

I could cross the miles in an instant…

 

What was I doing? What am I now, Egyptian, Syrian, American?

What am I now but blood, consciousness and pain.

Time to leave now, to wrestle with the tube where I might usually conjugate Arabic

verbs, but not today, knowing … that even if I could cross the miles in an instant

 there is not enough blood in my body for the fallen #powerless.

Later I sink back into the smile of the blind man I’ve never met,our brother, this time he

is in the arms of the mother of Khalid Said, the boy in whose name so many stood up and

I know now, that while there is blood in my body,

 

I have my voice, I have hope

I still have dreams of freedom

 

while there is blood in our bodies,

always we have our voice….

 


Hold on to hope and never

give up on our dreams of freedom,

let the light shine.

 

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Corona and philosophy

Corona and philosophy

Found the post below in Fb. Better in a bottle to be fair. Brought back memories of Zipoliti, Mejico, 1986. Sitting at Casa Tejofila. Some big rumbling vehicle drives by spraying the wilting crops. It’s been three years without significant rainfall, but they are spraying, I’m told, pesticides. They don’t tell me this at first. That is the two fishermen and Carlito, a mystic who makes jewellery from found objects on the beach and a guy that travels back and forth from the US for some reason he is reluctant to go into with me. The mystery revealed when Teofila had to go to the bank in Puetro Angel, and the white lines appeared on the table. I heard one of them say, “Que precioso, el rosa!” And figures banded about the only word I understood was milones.

Instead everyone puts his thumb in the top of his bottle and gestures to me to do the same. I’m like, “Porque, que pasa?” Then the explanation comes. I’m thinking what the hell are we breathing in then? Attempt to make this comment; I don’t know the conditional tense but it’s understood in any case. “Eh, no pasa nada Anita.” Shrugs all round. Roughly this translates in the circumstance as, “Don’t worry about that.” So Mexican. Hate to generalise. Perhaps so Zipoliti, where the rubbish was not collected because of some oversight by the govt. according to some. It was just dumped in the bushes. Where many shat in the bushes, where the travellers were directed to have a shit, where the few pigs ate the shit. One time I was startled by an inquisitive pig in the bushes.

Where garlic is a cure all. Have a cut; wash with seawater and wipe with a clove. Have a fever, take garlic soup with a raw egg broken and stirred. Eat a clove a day, come what may. Where there was so much love and magic. On the wall of Teofilas was a representation of the yin yang sign – two lizards each chasing the tail of the other.

Many of my questions to local people would be followed by a matter of fact explanation. It was hard to know at times what was rumour or fact. Then I would say, but why? The answer was always the same, “Asi es,” it is what it is. I found this mildly frustrating the acceptance of so much poverty, dishevelment, neglect. 

One afternoon I was guest of honour at a meal on the beach. It was a pretty grand affair. Fresh fish, lobster, crab and salads and of course tequila. Small children, hard to say their ages, ran around the table but didn’t join us. I couldn’t help noticing some of them had bald patches on the head. I asked Carlito why. “They don’t get enough vitamins, asi es.” Suddenly I didn’t feel very hungry. All this show for the gringita, I was the only woman at the table, why? It was often hard to know who to trust, to know their motivation. Teofila was sometimes gruff with me but  I trusted her. Our exchange was washing up a few hours a day for a hammock. There were the Swiss guys who only seemed to have one interest which was to buy weed, smoke weed and sell weed.  Their main man, Guru, the others told me lived on a rock for a month, they pointed it out to me. This perplexed me. How? The two Americans, who I hitched a lift with in the first place, – there were no buses in and out of Zipoliti – gave me the creeps. The locals I found it hard to tell.

Of those only Carlito I truly trusted so one night when the moon was waxing and the tides were high and a storm approaching he asked me had I tried peyote, would I like to try it? Of course I said yes. I think he may have said do you want to meet the little man and I imagined it would look like a mandrake but inside he pulled from one of his many pockets something which looked like a dried button mushroom. I had no idea I was about to enter another reality, another realm I still have access to. Open doors of perception that have never really closed, but that is another story recorded in my poem Que Onda in the still yet unfinished mini collection Violent Beauty.

SLP https://returntonow.net/2019/05/27/corona-becomes-first-major-beer-company-to-adopt-edible-6-pack-rings-that-feed-rather-than-kill-fish/

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Hello Dad

Hello Dad

11 years ago, Dad silently slipped away. Approx 1.00pm on the 6/9/2008. The death certificate says the ninth, we all knew that was wrong but does it matter? A bit of detective work on my part over the next few days revealed he had his hair cut that morning so was in his best togs and cheerful according to the hairdresser that popped in that day at 11.00. Later he cooked, ate and washed up; evidence: one pan, one plate to the side of the draining board, one knife, one folk, a potato peeler and a serving spoon stood like soldiers next to them on this stainless steel draining board in the fitted kitchen he designed and installed. Diy must have been named after him, he did the lot, including the central heating.

Dad’s life by this time had become one long repetitive routine, up at 6.00am, drink tea and doze in his chair. A banana for breakfast at 9.00 and more tea. Radio 4 all morning, blaring out as he found it hard to hear above the tinnitus. At 11.30  he would start making dinner, a couple of slices of cooked meat, boiled potatoes and one veg; carrots, broccoli or peas. Then the TV would go on at midday and he would sit in front of that flickering screen and have a couple of beers, cheap Carlsberg, bought in bulk from Tesco’s, decanted into a pint mug and doze again. At 5.30 he would make himself a sandwich and a cup of tea. Have another beer at 6.00, one at 8.00, one at 10.00pm. We found a crate of 48 cans of lager in the larder, half a dozen of pale ales and a couple of bottles of Theakston Old Peculier, that pretty much took care of the wake.

His life had shrunk to this and it pained me to watch it. I’d notice how he’d glance at the clock, when the little hand reached the top at certain hours,  heave himself out of the chair and go and pour himself a beer. When I visited lunch times was adjusted to 1.00pm. I could see the strain, he would be on edge. I took what must have seemed strange fare to share with him; hummus, kiwi fruits and mango, peppered mackerel, cherry yogurt and tiramisu, courgettes and cherry tomatoes,  Brie and blue veined smelly cheeses, black beans, spaghetti and wild rice and wild mushrooms. It took a lot of encouragement but he would try them to give him credit.

I would also take a couple of bottles of craft beer, which I knew he likes, the more obscurely named the better. Trouble is he didn’t drink for the joy of it anymore. This was methodical self medication. A few beers used to pull humour from him, he’d say, to us kids, “Ohhhh, the moon is full tonight, I goes mad when the moon is full, I gets hairs on the back of my hands. Ask yer mum, she’ll tell you. Have you got hairs on the back of your hands? We’d look down at our baby hands and at each other. He’d imitate a howl, prowl round the room until mum chuckling said, “Oh, Tom stop it, you’ll scare them!” But I could tell she loved it. Loved him being like that, not work worn from overtime, swearing under his breath on every step of the steep stairs, doing what she called his, “Alf Garnets,” which we could never work out if he was serious about or not he was a Labour man at heart. 

Many times I’d say, “You really should drink water, you can’t just live on tea and beer, what about your kidneys….” His response was always the same, “This modern fad/ nonsense – they didn’t drink water in the middle ages, they all drank beer, even kids, the water killed them.” Why had I no response to this I don’t know. Why couldn’t I say, “ Yer and they dropped dead at 35, don’t be ridiculous. A joke was what was needed here. “Fresh air kills,” was another of his obscure comments that baffled me as he’d fling open the windows, summer or winter. I see that now, defying him was beyond me then. Unknown to me then, at the time of his death by heart failure, he was in stage 4 of what is known as Chronic Kidney Disease, diagnosed at some point earlier that year. His kidneys must have been like wrinkled raisins.

I figure he got the diagnosis about the time I was experiencing a bout of excruciating anxiety and depression. Torn and crushed by an intercontinental love thing gone in a labyrinth of misunderstanding, anger, fear and agony and the task of organising a book launch. I told Dad how wretched I felt.  It was the first time I’d ever done that. Why then I don’t know; I was worried sick about him. I went to bed pretty much every night those four years after Mum died imagining him stumbling on the stairs, laying in a crumpled heap at the bottom, perhaps still conscious, unable to move. I noticed a wobble in his gait as he shuffled across the living room making his way to go upstairs. The stairs would creak under his weight. Perhaps  I was hoping he too would open up, I could see his suffering but couldn’t find a way in to ask how do you really feel?

Only now I recognise he too was ravaged by the two headed monster we merely call anxiety and depression. And that even then I still really needed his approval and acceptance. Needed him to understand why I was struggling, why it had taken me so long to get so not very far. One time when I mentioned my writing he said, gruffly  “Stop playing at it,” I was devastated, I had been published for the first time, submitting  regular film reviews to Creative Week., a monthly publication now defunct.  This seemed to count for nothing because I was only paid expenses. Now I see I was learning my craft not failing. When the editor offered me a paid job I turned it down, took a teaching position instead. I was too ill to do both. Mum was dying and, and what? I guess I wanted to show her, before she left, I had a “proper job” and not prove her wrong, because although she supported my writing by then the message from my teenage years still had a hold on me – people like us… 

When I surveyed that empty room after he’d gone, after swiftly packing a bag and racing for a train it echoed of emptiness. I asked myself, “Where is his beer mug?” It puzzled me for years. Why the rush I don’t know, he was already dead, of course yes I do know; I had to get there before anyone removed the evidence, vital clues. I packed irrationally taking along with meds and toothbrush, my camera, Wellington boots for the garden, post it notes, the latter why?  He had asked me at some point to label the filing cabinet in large print as his sight was going with the cataracts.

I realised yesterday his beer mug would have been on the round table next to him, the one he made for his mum and dad that now sits at my bedside. I guess my brother had moved it when he found my dad. It would have been the sort of thing he would have done; pour away the stale beer before the undertaker arrived. I meant to ask him last night but it hardly seemed timely after seeing Romeo and Juliette top themselves. Or perhaps it was. For my part I disposed of the packs of paracetamol I found in the bedroom and bathroom, the empty packs in the waist paper basket upstairs and down. Evidence that his last weeks were spend in pain. The sciatica I assume. That was just too much to bear or share with siblings that couldn’t cope with too much reality.

How did I know the precise time? Besides the routine, there next to him was the Radio Times. In his own peculiar bordering-on-obsessive way he’d circle the shows he wanted to listen to or see. It was open at the TV page, which I have somewhere with the trinkets, coins and some of the sweet little gifts he’d give us. Never at birthdays or Christmas just as and when. A silvered bottle opener in the shape of a dolphin keeps company with the concave breadboard scoured with age in my kitchen.

In those last years so lonely and so alone. So unable to speak his grief he softened. One time we were watching the football, a women’s league or perhaps the final. One of the players; lanky with dreads that reached half way down her back, hammered the ball into the back of the net from way outside the 18 yard box. For a moment I froze. Expectant. Preparing a response to something like, “Bloody wogs, a wonder when she got off the banana boat?” I glanced at him and he said, “Good goal!” Nodding with genuine approval. That father had died a long time ago.

He endured Lara Croft with me and joked about it. A good bad film. Sometimes I could get him to step into the garden with me. I knew it was pointless to ask him so I’d go out and pull at endless streams of ivy and bind wind that was smothering the evergreens. Eventually he would come out and watch, standing their silent,  smoking. He’d smoke, incidentally, the day long. Any comment on this fell on deaf ears. Fell on excuses, the patches itch he’d say, I guess when you smoke and where a patch that’s quite likely!

He wasn’t entirely alone he would tell me about the visits from his sister, my sister, he rarely had a good word for either of them. He’d tell me about visits from Emma and the twins from next door whom he adored, a feeling which was obviously mutual. At ten years old I guess it may have been the first funeral for the twins; identical like his brothers, but blonde with apple skin. Emma had dressed them impeccably, I don’t know how she could afford it, and they each carried a red rose to place on the coffin.

At the wake the girls wriggled together in his armchair giggling. One of them said to me, “I can see him, he’s there” and pointed to the ceiling, I had no idea what she really meant. I imagine now, he must have been pulling faces, relishing in making them laugh. Someone put on Charlie Parker, maybe me. I can remember the times he’d said, “Have you heard of Charlie Parker? The Bird they called him. Now he was great.”  (It is entirely possible he didn’t realise The Bird was black….)  When he said this I would look at him blankly with no context for this comment. I might say, “Oh.” With the advent of the internet I googled it and bought a three CD set for him one Christmas. It was unopened until the wake.

Despite all the shit from siblings the family expect Christian funeral, (he was a committed atheist) he got the send off he wanted in the end. I looked around the room and saw so much laughter and colour; the funeral dress code was wear what you like.  Kinda New Orleans style, like the movie, what was the movie, one of the Bond movies. He’d say, “When I go, I wanna go like that,” At first I’d cring, not wanting to know about that, or say, “Da-ad, don’t!” Eventually I could manage a weak smile.

Truth is he never really left I reckon til last year. Not being a believer guess he probably wondered what the hell was going on. Emma told me that night, when his body woulda still be turning cold, one of the pencils he gave the girls, engraved with their names, flew across the room and landed at her feet.

A year ago in Andalusia, I decided to do something about this. One night I met him at the foot of the mountain I could see from bedroom window at the writing retreat. Slowly we made our way to the top. He grumbled all the way. It took a very long time believe me. At the summit I said, “Look can’t you see they are all waiting for you?” Mum and his parents stood together reaching out. I’m not sure how he got up there because, though he grew lighter as we ascended, I could hardly have lifted him, he had a build like John Wayne, and no angels came down shimmering, but somehow in the end he reached up and he was gone. Incidentally since that time the heavy fatigue I’ve experienced for 30 odd years has almost entirely left me.i guess I’d carried him all those years. Before mum died she said, “Look after your Dad, keep an eye on Michael and be gentle with Sue.”  Who was looking after me?

He comes here sometimes, I can smell him. We rarely talk. Well, there is some kind of soundless exchange that makes meaning and sometimes words.  If we did would it still be one sided? He used to berate what he called “the talkers,” These were the experts, novelists, Nobel prize winners, appearing on radio 4. “Never done a proper job like me what do they know! They just talk, They know nothing!” And I cant help wondering what he thinks when he sees me now; talking or performing, to audiences or on radio. Am I now just another “talker” to him. Something tells me not if he has continued to soften, to lighten.i

To those who couldn’t or wouldn’t see him. Refused to cross the threshold of that smoky room. It is your loss. I feel sorry for you. I forgive you. Sometimes I can’t, its a process. When it is particularly hard, I fall back on, as Tara Brach says, “though I cannot forgive you now it is my intention to forgive.”

I made my peace with Dad sometime ago, the moon was full as it is now. I heard myself say, “It’s ok, I understand now, there’s is nothing to forgive.” He looked down, a slight frown on his face. He floated maybe a few feet from the floor, I had to look up to see his face, the rest of his form in distinct. “Dad,” I said, “You almost look like the Cheshire Cat!”

He smiled and said, “Well then, you must be Alice.”

“No Enith,” I replied. “ Sometimes I feel like Alice…”

“They’re all maaad you know, all maaaaad!” He said with a wicked grin. And with that he faded away. I knew he would be back.

I’m pretty sure he’s here right now.

Excerpt from Conversations with my Father, a work in progress.

 

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Writing prompt

Writing prompt

“A plant called Pete has taken a selfie”

Play with this one; use the headline or image as a prompt and freewrite for twenty minutes and see where it takes you. Then consider what you have just made. Is it for just for fun, or does it feel it needs development, does it welcome a form?

Take it further if you like; what does Pete make of the climate emergency?

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Reported16th October 2019

More info https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-50056665

 

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Reflections on World Mental Health Day 2019

Reflections on World Mental Health Day 2019

Happy mental health day – I can’t help thinking, how can we be healthy right now? If health is balance it is so hard to achieve in a world that feels so out of balance. The toxic mix of the incredible uncertainty that we are living through in The U.K. right now, across the world, the absurdity and insanity, not just of our economic system – for profit not need, but the farce of what passes for governance, the ever present wars and threat of war are taking there toll.

A programme last night called How Did I Get Mad, revealed higher incidences of psychosis among people that have migrated, whether voluntarily or forced by war, poverty or the threat of persecution. In addition the levels of mental health problems among young people are at there highest levels ever recorded in Britain and the simply is enough services to treat these people near their families and friends.

The dominant economic and political systems of this world are not just unequal and unjust they are making us sick quite literally. We must heal ourselves and this planet. The two are dialectical but if you are really vulnerable at this time, put yourself first, find ways to become more stable and achieve the balance in yourself first before taking on the instability and imbalance and in this world. Reach out for help if you need it, spend time in nature, trust the earth to love you and hold you. Trust the universe to deliver what you need.

It’s all connected. We are all matter and energy. We are all human. Even members of Parliament last night in response to the persecution by the far right were saying, we are human, we are afraid for our own life’s and those of our families. I’ve gone off at a tangent I realise yet if that is not evidence of consciousness changing what is. Marx said conscious would change in struggle, he was right and time and time again we have witnessed this over the centuries, in revolutions. But they did not, as Trotsky urged they must, become permanent.

Now we face the biggest struggle ever, to save the planet and save ourselves. It effects everyone of us. If the 1% only care about their wealth, property and investments fuck them. We don’t need them, we already run things already on a day to day basis while they cream off the profits. I’m not saying class doesn’t matter, or other differences we may have don’t matter, we all have different experiences and they are all valuable. Collectively we can turn things around. It’s already started.

Humans appear to be so destructive, but they can also be astoundingly creative when not tied to a profit motive, when not warring for profit;  warring over oil, fossil fuels and minerals. When we look for solutions. When we used compassion and empathy rather than statistics and financial risk to make decisions. The beginning is nigh, the time is now for action for some, healing for others, a new dawn is on the horizon, our spring will come, love is the way and love begets love. And has no limit.

 

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Poem: How to Break a Curse

Poem: How to Break a Curse

How to Break a Curse

Lemon balm is for forgiveness.
Pull up from the root, steep
in boiling water. Add locusts’ wings,
salt, the dried bones of hummingbirds.
Drink when you feel ready.
Drink even if you do not.
Pepper seeds are for courage.
Sprinkle them on your tongue.
Sprinkle in the doorway and along
the windowsill. Mix pepper and water
to a thick paste. Spackle the cracks
in the concrete, anoint the part
in your hair. You need as much
courage as you can get.
Water is for healing.
Leave a jar open beneath the full moon.
Let it rest. Water your plants.
Wash your face. Drink.
The sharpened blade is for memory.
Metal lives long, never grows weary
of our comings and goings. Wrap this blade
in newspaper. Keep beneath your bed.
Be patient, daughter.
Be patient.

 


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No borders, no crime?

No borders, no crime?

Response to

‘We’re not being given a viable future’: how Brexit will hurt British music by Michael Hann @michaelahann

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/apr/03/brexit-effects-on-british-pop-classical-music?CMP=share_btn_fb

Who said, “Because I am a woman I have no country?” I forget but I say, Because I am a writer; I have no country. Because I am a refugee; I have no country. Because I have a disability; I have no country. Because I am precarious; I have no country. Because I am an artist; I have no country. Because I am a minority; I have no country unless it pleases them, look out. Because I have special educational needs; I have no country. Because I’m a trade unionist; I have no country. Because I have a mental health problem; I have no country. Because I am a migrant worker; I have no country. Because I am a musician….

Some might say

Because I invest in an offshore tax free account I have no country, and there’s plenty of advice out there how to do it….

“Despite what you may hear, offshore banking is completely legal. It’s not about tax evasion or other illegal activities. It’s simply about legally diversifying your political risk by putting your liquid savings in sound, well-capitalized institutions where they are treated best.”

https://internationalman.com/articles/offshore-banking/

“Where you normally pay tax

If you’re not resident in the UK for tax purposes you won’t usually be liable to pay tax in the UK on your offshore incomes and gains but it’s important to check your residency status and what’s taxable from offshore income.” HMRC Guidance.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ten-things-about-offshore-assets-and-income/ten-things-about-offshore-assets-and-income

“Offshore investment bonds can be a tax efficient investment wrapper often provided by global life insurance firms with the aim to enable investors to grow capital often without attracting any tax.”

https://www.expertsforexpats.com/expat-financial-advice/offshore-investment-bonds/

 

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