the beck my beck North England Old English bece Dutch beek German bach my beck my early life my once-upon-a-time world
it was all things to me my territory my front line against the outside world fell in fished out fished in fishes out tiddlers minnows sticklebacks countless times jumped it daily dammed it constructed waterfalls floods flooded floods receded dredged repaired renewed
succoured my imagination my coliseum my Olympic stadium succeeding my umbilical chord as my link to the world it ran through my heart and past my house gave me a ballpark my own adventure playground complete with running water subterranean tunnels waterfalls dams stepping stones overhanging trees to climb to suspend myself dangling over the running water sandstone-walled bridges for carving initials routes to explore in both directions crossings to navigate ledges to crawl along overgrown banks forbidden sections Rubicon for gang warfare Lethe at dusk
above all suspending my belief in dreams for this was my reality
In a cleft in the scarp slope of the Cleveland Hills, surrounded on three sides by steep tree-clad hills, now part of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, lie a small number of houses. Now highly desirable properties, two miles from the nearby market town where I grew up. It is said that this secluded spot was, in medieval times, inhabited by a small community of lepers. In past times leprosy was thought to be both highly infectious and incurable. Lepers were required to remain within the confines of their village and never to come into direct contact with other human beings. Well meaning townsfolk would, from time to time, leave food beside a stone set up to mark the limit beyond which all lepers were never to venture. Such a ‘Leper Stone’ still stands at this spot as do several similar stones in other parts of the British Isles. Whilst there is some dispute over the truth of this story, there does appear to have been a leper colony here in medieval times and certainly such places and such stones can be found in other parts of the country. My verse below attempts to convey something of the desolate, bleak, despairing nature of existence for those who in past times were afflicted with this dreaded
The LEPER STONE
I live a lazar isolated shut off from life from the world’s reality in that ancient Chernobyl as a hermit monk an eremite
my path not of my choosing but chosen for me by disease by circumstance life’s throw of the dice or perhaps it was death’s for my existence is a living death my isolation whilst I wither unknown untouchable confined in this cleft in the hills one carucate of land one oxgang to roam to till to survive
let no one in lest I corrupt all contamination’s child my daily burden to see what morsels of discarded waste have been left for me on the leper stone pig swill yesterday nothing today tomorrow I may not be here tomorrow
my family similarly afflicted now passed on released from their sentence myself inheriting their misfortune their bleak history their misbegotten future
William Blake … ‘The Vision Of Christ Resurrected’
A Haiku, when written in English, is a 3-lined unrhymed tercet. A Poetic TERCET is essentially a verse of three-lines all of which end in the same rhyme and often written in iambic pentameter. I print three of my own such Poetic TERCETS below . . .
THE DOUBTING THOMAS
To start each morning he would kneel and pray;
He needed that to get him through the day.
At least his god would let him have his say.
He loved to speak and then have the last word.
His friends, such as they were, called him absurd,
The rest just closed their ears and nothing heard.
Yes, I am getting older now; my prime has slipped away; But I’m beating off the Harpies who want to bring doomsday. But the benefits now brought about through all the new advances Have brought about a change in me, at least they’ve upped my chances.
For, mine eyes have seen the glory never found since I was nine; I ‘ve cast aside my spectacles reversing my decline. I’ve got new eyes now, darling, and the cataracts have gone, So despite my aged torso I will still keep staggering on.
And my new knees tell the story of my better prospects now; I’m going to try the Great North Run if only they allow, ‘Cos I feel as though I’m twenty four and kicking down the door. At least I’ll get a few years now before I need some more.
My metal hip has been replaced; I now have one in plastic; It’s been a great success, although the experience was quite drastic. I can hobble with the best of them and the stairs I cope with ease; Yes, walking is a doddle now and life is just a breeze.
My hearing aid’s a bonus, I know what’s being said on telly. My confidence I have regained, I’d rival Machiavelli; The end still justifies the means; these life aids serve their purpose, But instead of “Turn the volume up”, I’m wishing they were wordless.
My carpal tunnel surgery stopped my fingers feeling numb. I’m twice the man I used to be, an artist I’ve become; So now you see me in my prime reflecting on new marvels; My hands are fully functional now; I have not lost my marbles.
My lumber corset gives me an efficient spinal brace. My posture’s as it should be now, no longer a disgrace. I stand upright and hold my place wherever I may be, Just the occasional little blip, one you’ll hardly ever see.
The wig I found provided me with a new lease of life; No longer bald and reticent – I’ve got a new-found wife. I’m wond’ring how surprised she’ll be when we get into bed, Perhaps she’ll want a payback when she finds she’s been misled?
They gave me my libido back with just a small blue pill; Revived my passion and my lust – be that for good or ill. I must say I’m enjoying those long lost thrills again, No longer from the Tantric Arts, do I have to abstain.
They now give me a freebie both for Christmas and tv Free bus and tube rides I can get, I’ve become a devotee Of touring round my city in a bus as if in state Suits me to be busy now at the age of eighty eight.
A pension I am grateful for, although it’s not enough, I paid my dues for forty years, I did think that was tough; Yes, the National Health helps me a lot, I get my medicine free, And if I want a pick-me-up, my nurse is good to me.
My mouth has been replenished with a set of new white teeth; I thought it best to have that done before they bought my wreath. I look forward to my time in Heaven, but perhaps it’s just as well, That I can still enjoy life now – in case I go to Hell.
POOLE is a large coastal town and seaport in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England. The town is 33 kilometres east of Dorchester, and adjoins Bournemouth to the east. The town borders Sandbanks, a gorgeous beach backed by some of the world’s most expensive chunks of real estate. I came across this defaced Borough Council notice board when I visited some years ago. The Limericks followed . . .
Some smart Alec just for a joke At the burghers of Poole took a poke. He committed a crime By altering a sign, Causing mayhem with these gentle folk.
When they took their dogs for a stroll Their pets lost all sense of control And without more ado They started to poo Not thinking to bring toilet rolls
When the Poole cops arrested the joker He said, “I lost all playing poker. I thought he wins who dares; I had toilet roll shares.” He turned out to be a stockbroker.