On Ageing Gloriously 

‘Old Age & Youth’ …  Pen and ink – WHB.  2017

ON AGEING GLORIOUSLY

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.

JUST FOR A JOKE

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.

LIFE’S JOURNEY

TODAY I AM TACKLING A POEM USING THE ‘OTTAVA RIMA’ POETIC FORM.

Originally an Italian stanza of eight 11-syllable lines, with a rhyme scheme of ABABABCC.  Sir Thomas Wyatt first introduced the form in English, and Lord Byron adapted it to a 10-syllable line for his mock-epic ‘Don Juan’.  W.B.Yeatsnotably used it for his poems “Among Scool Children’ and Sailing to Byzantium.’

[ Adapted from http://www.poetryfoundation.org ]

Sir John Everett Millais … ‘The Boyhood of Raleigh’ (1870)

OTTAVA RIMA

LIFE’S JOURNEY

I long to travel through my life again,

To have the same beginning but to change

The choices that have given me such pain

And turn them into something rich and strange;

Transform those scenes to sunshine from the rain,

The order of their happening rearrange.

My hope would be to bring new meaning to

My life-long search for love and joy with you.

W.H.Booth (aka Roland Keld)… 21/5/17

VINEGAR

‘Fish & Chip Shop’ … Pen and Wash – WHB 2017

VINEGAR

 Sometimes  

I feel like a priest

In a fish and chip queue

Quietly thinking

As the vinegar runs through

How nice it would beTo buy supper for two

By Roger McGough

 [ From:  Penguin Modern Poets 10 – Henri; McGough; Patten ]

This gentle compact verse catches, in just a few phrases, some of the emotion of a humdrum everyday activity and wistfully points to the suppressed yearnings of both a personal and a monastic life.

Roger McGough  (1937 – ) is an English poet, broadcaster, playwright, and children’s author . He presents the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Poetry Please’.   He is one of the leading members of the group which have become known as The Liverpool Poets’.

THE BLACK HOUSE

‘The Black House’ … This house still stands in a North Yorkshire country town – tarred in black still, as it has been for at least the past 100 years. Photo – WHB 2016

THE BLACK HOUSE

The house stood alone
beside the beck
its walls pitched in black
ebony
against the skyline
tarred
against the weather
cold and dark
somehow so sinister
but housing
a family of seven

Fortunes told
fortunes lost
life’s foragers
five kids
one my age
runny nosed urchins
unwashed
unabashed
‘Throwers of words
As they did stones’

Banned from playing with
such snot- noses
yet,
from time to time
I did
their home a dark place
a cluttered life
midst the family debris
best left undisturbed

Mused
amused
and yet afraid
in such alien space
I shrivelled
and fretted

Only outdoors
in the wood-burn
tarred
air of their yard
there was a happiness
I could recognise
participate in
hiding in the woodpile
humping logs
to build a den
sticks
goading the dog
encouraging
the excitement of his barks
teasing the tangled
knotted
sheepdog blackness
of  his coat
loving the illicit thrills
on offer at
The Black House

Before running
the beck-side wall
to return to
my own good fortune
warm and bright
fire
forge
and furnace –
Red
Not Black.

ETHEREE

Today I am ‘having a go’ at the Etheree poetic form.  It is somewhat similar to the Cinquain and the Rictameter, both of which I have tackled previously.   The Etheree is a ten line form ascending in syllable count for ten unrhymed lines, and it should focus on a single idea or subject.    Thus the syllable count is in the form:  1.2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 
This can be altered to give a Reverse Etheree:  10.9.8.7.6.5.4.3.2.1.

The form is attributed to an American poet, Etheree Taylor Armstrong of Arkansas (1918 – 1994).  Little seems to be known of her life except the poetic form she devised.

Notes adapted from ‘The Poets’ Garret’ et al.  

I have attempted both forms below – on the subjects of ‘Idleness’  and  ‘Life’ …

‘Love In Idleness’ . . . Pen & Wash – WHB

IDLENESS – A REVERSE ETHEREE

Today I vow to spend in idleness,
to do no more than listen keenly,
allow the world to speak to me,
while I, in turn, consider
which way my life now  leads,
trying to find peace
within my mind
that will see
my life
through.

LIFE – A REGULAR ETHEREE

Life,
in truth,
defeats me.
Midst storm and stress
I struggle to keep
that equilibrium
which holds me in its stillness,
waiting with some trepidation
for that final push to reach the stars
where my disquietude will cease to be.

A Sign Too Far . . . Again

I have, on two previous occasions, dealt with the modern day scourge caused by the multitude of signs and advertisements which so often deface our side-walks and pavements. Below, I use my own photographs again to illustrate my views on this subject . .

A SIGN TOO FAR   . . .  TAKE 3

So often have I been
attacked by signs
Throughout the day
Plethora
Of signals
Face me as I walk
Innocuous one by one
But fearsome in phalanx
Threatening my advance
Discouraging my progress
Terrorising travel
Note to myself –
Beware
Be wary

A sign
Is a sign
Is a sign
I need to tell you that
I need to let you know
To say it loud and clear
Please notice me
Notice my notice
If I say it often enough
You are bound to notice
Allow me to grab
Your attention
And your money
Let me
tell you about myself
I’m not shy
Passer by
I’ll tell you why
Just shout it out
And cry
To the sky
Saying by the by
Please notice me
Please don’t go
You need to know
I’ve much to say
In every way
All through the day

Too much
Too far
I say
Just clear the way
And let me pass
Your sinister intent
Not heaven sent
You need me more
Than I need you
So please take notice
I refuse
To take notice
Of your notice.

Photographs … WHB – 2017

The Writing’s On The Wall

Pen & Ink Sketch … WHB – May 2017

The Writing’s On The Wall

(Verses using idiomatic expressions)

It’s all over bar the shouting,
Pride goes before a fall;
Another nail in the coffin,
The writing’s on the wall.

“You’ve not a hope in hell’, they said
You’re doomed to sink like a stone.
Abandon hope who enters here.”
But the devil looks after his own.

I will not beat about the bush
Nor bark up that wrong tree.
Yes, it’s back to square one I go,
‘Twixt devil and deep blue sea.

Some time I’ll bite the bullet again,
But till the bitter end
Blood, sweat and tears it is for me
Till I am round the bend,

No, I’m not about to bite the dust,
Nor to push up the daisies,
For I am still alive and kicking,
Singing my own  life’s praises.

Yes, the cleft stick that I am in
Is just a cock-and-bull story,
For I will last till the cows come home
In my Land of Hope and Glory.

And when the hue and cry are over
Then I’m  off to the Land of Nod.
When those hell’s bells have sounded.
All’s still in the lap of the gods.

Yes, every dog will have its day
The writing is on the wall
Every cloud has a silver lining
I’m not heading for a fall.

No Blue Plaque

NO BLUE PLAQUE

No blue plaque here
but
in that house
in that room
I was conceived.
In the same house
in the same room
then I was born.

First child
Only child
Undistinguished house
undistinguished room
undistinguished birth.

But blessed with
the Conquering
Blood and Fire
General’s name.

It had to be that way.

Aren’t all births
distinguished only by their
unglamorous spectacle?

Not something I asked for
nor desired.
No regrets
but there were
Consequences.
Oh, yes.
Eighty years
of consequences.
My history
My responsibility
My river’s ride
through childhood rapids
to maturity’s turmoil
and turbulence.
Becalmed now
in dispiriting dotage
its stillnesses
its infirmity and nostalgia.

What follows
eventually
as I merge
with the looming ocean
waiting
to receive me?


Memories fade for me

Yet I know
some continuity remains
where these same images
 have been handed on
to those loved ones
who will remember.

But now
in moments of tranquility
my responsibility
for my past
presses hard
until those times when
 my love surges
to outweigh my guilt
and again
for good or ill
my scarred soul
returns to its past
and wonders.


… and time treads on
as I stare at the window
the nets shielding its secrets.
Now
just as they did then
So long ago.

Photographs … WHB – Yorkshire (2016) and Sussex (2009), UK

Life Drawing Class

LIFE DRAWING CLASSES

Life drawing classes in Chelsea
The chance of a lifetime fulfilled
A chance to perfect my technique
I should’ve been delighted and thrilled.

But it wasn’t quite like that in practice;
Whilst I became more and more zealous
I found to my utter dismay
My fiancé grew terribly jealous.

So I gave up these classes to please her,
My art took a secondary place
To a contented future with landscapes.
Yes, I gave in to her whims – just in case.

So, I never will be a Paul Rubens,
And Lucien Freud’s not for me.
I timidly gave in to persuasion,
All governed by wifely decree.

.   Sketches by – WHB  ©