God & The Devil … Two SENRYU

 

God & The Devil … 2 SENRYU

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THE DEVIL

Sing to me of Life
In all its magnificence
And I’ll show you Death.

 

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GOD

Talk to me of Death
With its related terrors
And I’ll bring you Hope.

 

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Let Sleeping Ducks Lie

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Morning on the River Lowman, Devon … Photo: WHB – 2017  ©

 

LET SLEEPING DUCKS LIE

Pillowed heads
nestled
self-cushioned
oblivious
to my interference
in their down time

Dead to the busy world
and to my stare
my attempt
to disturb their lives
with my own

Our only mutual assurance
the comfort
of another sunrise
another day
to forage
to survive
to face
new concerns
different uncertainties

 The inbuilt plight
of all creation
fortified only
by a will
to endure
to survive
and thrive

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Inspiration

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Waters of the River Lowman, Devon – Photo:  WHB, 2017   ©

 

INSPIRATION

 

As Lowman meanders
hardly awake
over its pebbled bed
and as clear waters
give back the russet tones
of disturbed sand
of silt-stained rocks
so I muse

Imagination awakes
words flow
with the waters of the stream
transmuting my senses

into visions
of solitude
and silence
of grace in being
delight in life itself

These images
transposed
revisiting me now

with imprinted memories
of awe
of richness

felt in the bones of my youth
replicated now
in the dis-ease of old age

 

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Popular Opinion

 

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From Reddit (detail) – Sep., 2017

“Popular opinion is the greatest lie in the world. ”  ― Thomas Carlyle   Thomas Carlyle

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WAS IT ME?

Three faces of the truth
Did, Didn’t, Might-Have-Done
Owned up only to being honest

DID . . .

Ok
Hands up
I admit it
You aren’t wrong
It was me
I am guilty
You’ve got me bang to rights

DIDN’T

It wasn’t me
You are mistaken
Not guilty
I deny it all
I was never there
I couldn’t have done it
I have a watertight alibi

MIGHT-HAVE-DONE

I don’t know
It might have been me
It could have been me
But – what does it matter
I don’t care
You don’t care
No-one cares

JUDGEMENT

Being economical with the truth
Right or wrong
True or false
Truth will out
Justice will triumph
 
Or so says popular opinion 
The greatest lie in the world

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Stercus Accidit

StercusAccidit 

Stercus Accidit

Eventually
Inevitably
Regretfully
Into our life
Strife
Friction
Fever
 frenzy and ferment
will occur
C’est la vie
So let it be
Trouble is rife
Just deal with life
That’s what it means
We are machines
Unsurpassed
Programmed to last
Stercus is sent
A letter of intent
To test the resolve
Which makes us human

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NOTES:   Latin:  ‘stercus = faeces; accidit = happens.  In the vernacular, the phrase is usually translated as :  “Into every life some shit must fall”, or as  “shit happens“.  The phrase is attributed to the Scottish philosopher David Hume.  More delicately, in French, “C’est la vie” would probably be used in similar situations – not, of course, that I am suggesting the British are any less indelicate than the French!

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AN AFTERLIFE

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The Yin and the Yang …in Eastern thought, the two complementary forces that make up all aspects and phenomena of life.

AN AFTERLIFE

Allow me to be morbid
To think of death
The afterlife
My next life

When life is now so full
It is not seemly
And not to be countenanced
To tempt fate
With supposition
Of a dubious kind

And yet I do
I do because I am
And the I that I am
Needs to contemplate
Beyond the now
Into the shadows of the future
The mysteries
Of my dust
My ashes

Not reincarnation
Because there will be
No me to be reborn
Merely a redistribution of
My dust and an accompanying
Acquisition of a sensate soul
To replicate a birth
An existence
And an organic life
In Nature’s cyclic motion

No out-of-body experience
Has persuaded me of this
No religious faith has
Swayed my thought

On the borderlands of life
I pause to contemplate
My future
Beyond the Pale
In That No-Man’s-Land of the imagination
That Heaven or that Hell awaiting

My next existence
The I who will not be me
Frightens me
The diversity of possibilities
For my re-formed dust to inhabit
Allow me no certainty
For there can be
No sense of continuity
Only, as now,
An unawareness
A not-knowing
 Of what has gone before
And of what will succeed me
The me that is not me
New flesh, new history
New mind, new destiny
But without
Any sense of newness
No connection to the past
The same not-knowing
About the future

I could be so much worse off
And yet I know
it will not be me
Not someone who remembers
The pleasures which have pleasured me
The joys which have made me joyous
Or the loves which enchanted me
For I will be he
Or she
Or it
Just someone who exists
Painfully sentient
Plausibly penitent
Regretting
Perhaps rejoicing
In a life
As I do now
In that life
I am afraid to leave

 

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‘Nature’s Query’ … Photograph – WHB  2016 ©

 

 

BUKOWSKI … a Crazy Life

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Van Inscription:  BUKOWSKI – some people never go crazy – what truly horrible lives they must lead’   ©

Henry Charles Bukowski (1920 – 1994), was a German-American poet, novelist, and short story writer.  His writing was influenced by the social, cultural, and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles.  His work addresses the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women, and the drudgery of work. (Wikipedia)

Bukowski has become something of a cult hero.  For some, his life-style, his aphorisms, the spirit imaged in his poetry, have become a way of life.  An image of one such itinerant was caught on camera by a Canadian friend on the Pacific coast of British Columbia.  This photograph occasioned my verse below . . .

BUKOWSKI

my life I confess
in my poetry
it is the vagrant life
tale of a loafer
lowlife laureate
being a bummer
suited me
no carbon copy
king of the underground
pulp-fiction hero
I made the running
took to my heels and
ran with the wind
lusted after life
stopped on a whim
ate when the food was there
or I stood still
and hungered
took my fill of loving
the casual way
I didn’t try
kept a wandering eye
the man who got lucky
lay in wait for inspiration
caught a glimpse of Paradise
nurtured that bluebird in my heart
laughed and scorned
smoked the weed that thrills
loved the life that kills
lived it
versified it
crucified it
until it crucified me.

Find What You Love

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Charles Bukowski

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The ‘Bukowski’ van parked on the seafront on Vancouver Island, B.C.   Photographs of the van are by courtesy of Canadian artist, Alma Kerr. ©

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SQUARE-BASHING

RAF Hednesford 1953

SQUARE-BASHING

Eight weeks I bashed that square,
Pounded that acre of ground.
Hurt and ached and bled,
The experience was profound.

“Serve your country’s need”
That is what they said,
“Don’t let the enemy win,
Suffer pain instead.

We need more cannon fodder,
Don’t let your country down,
So let’s see what you’re made of,
And get rid of that frown.”

And so I did my service,
My nation needed me.
Became a lowly sprog
By government decree.

Placed in a special POM flight
Given ‘housewife’, fork, and knife,
With such items in my kit-bag
I was number-stamped for life.

“Lay your kit out pronto
Neatly on your bed.
I want to see you bleeding”,
That’s what our corporal said.

Then out to the parade ground,
Twice daily we would drill
Until I ached all over,
Felt positively ill.

I pulled out all the stops,
To keep in step I tried,
But what I wished to do was
To run away and hide.

Route marching was no joke,
‘God Bless the Union Jack’.
I sweated and I faded
With full pack on my back.

Assault Courses were great fun,
Not for us, for our tormentors,
Braving tunnels, barbed wire and mud,
They crucified dissenters.

I cut the grass with scissors,
Painted pebbles white,
Ironed my boots with polish,
All this to help me fight.

I did my share of jankers,
Scrubbed latrines that stank,
Peeled countless grey potatoes,
Flushed out the septic tank.

Cleaned my rifle daily,
Bren guns I dismantled,
Was oft confined to barracks,
All leave and passes cancelled.

This was my National Service,
It taught me to obey.
At the time it was a penance,
It was the British way.

Perhaps it made us what we are,
My fellow sprogs and me.
Did we in our small way help stop
The start of World War Three?

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drill-corporal

A ‘SHOUT’ of Drill Corporals

GLOSSARY of Military Terms and Jargon

National Service:   National Service was peacetime conscription. All able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 30 were called up. They initially served for 18 months. But in 1950, during the Korean War (1950-53), this was increased to two years.  From 1949 until 1963 more than 2 million men were called up to the British Army, Royal Navy or Royal Air Force.

Square-bashing:  Marching drills and other military exercises practised on a parade ground.  At the outset of their 2-year service, all N.S. recruits were required to go through an 8 week course.

Housewife’:  The Housewife holdall/pouch contained all that a soldier would require to carry out any repairs to his clothing when necessary. Inside it would contain a thimble, two balls of grey darning wool (for socks), 50 yards of linen thread wound around card, needles, brass dish buttons (for Battledress) and plastic buttons for shirts.

POM – Potential Officer Material:  National Service recruits who had attained sufficient GCE level passes in leaving school examinations were all considered as POMs and placed in separate units from other recruits.

Sprog:  Military slang for new recruits or trainees.

Jankers:  In the British Armed Services, jankers is the term used for the official punishment or restriction of privileges for a minor breach of discipline.

Bren gun:  Light machine gun made by Britain in the 1930s and used in various roles until 1992.

Corporal:  A non-commissioned officer in the armed forces. This rank was typically placed in charge of the drill training of new recruits.

Number-stamped:  New recruits were all given a service number which was stamped on their individual possessions, including their ‘housewife’ and their own set of cutlery.

Military Assault Course:  Used in military training to increase fitness, to demonstrate techniques that can be used for crossing very rough terrain, and to increase teamwork and self-confidence.  Often undertaken whilst thunderflashes are being let off in close proximity, and incorporating obstacles representing the most likely difficult terrain that a soldier might come across.

[ With acknowledgement for the assistance given by Des – Sarum5254 ]

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‘The Reason’ – by Stevie Smith

(Poem No.47 of my favourite short poems)

The Reason

The Reason – Poem by Stevie Smith

 

My life is vile
I hate it so
I’ll wait awhile
And then I’ll go.

Why wait at all?
Hope springs alive,
Good may befall
I yet may thrive.

It is because I can’t make up my mind
If God is good, impotent or unkind.

Stevie Smith

 

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Il Dolce Far Niente

‘Il Dolce Far Niente’ translates as ‘Sweet Idleness’, ‘The sweetness of doing nothing’, or perhaps the feeling that doing nothing can be a positive rather than a negative ‘activity’.  The concept is Italian and appears to derive its meaning from the languor of life in those countries which enjoy a Mediterranean climate.

In view of the demands made upon us all in our modern world of hectic activity, where, for many, Facebook and Twitter command more attention than making face-to-face conversation, it seems appropriate for us all on occasion to take time out, to halt life’s frantic pace, to pause every now and again to enjoy our surroundings and our fellow human beings.

The concept matches well with the thoughts of W.H.Davies expressed in his famous poem   ‘Leisure’  (q.v.).   The idea has also long been a favourite subject of both poets and pictorial artists, particularly during the 19th Century.

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‘Dolce Far Niente’ by John Singer Sargent – 1907 (Brooklyn Museum, New York)

IL DOLCE FAR NIENTE

how mellow is the stillness
of a moment’s rest
the tranquility of a pause
to catch one’s breath

 merely to sit
and let life’s gladness in
to squander time
bask in the quietude
embrace serenity
and savour solitude

such dulcet times
are gifted to us
as blessings
to counter
life’s feverish pace
how pleasant to give in
let the world go 
without a fight
relax and let time pass
submit to lethargy
such rest is
cathartic
curative

in the moment
seek stillness
let life lapse
take time out from caring
to sit and look
relax and watch
unbend
allow the strain
to become becalmed

be still
in the silence of the day
give thoughts
the space to bloom
and eyes the time
to gaze

empower the present
and let it be enjoyed
for what it is
not for what will follow
for in the present
the past is severed
and be sure
the future
will have its day

look to the now
the sun, the moon
the stars, the sea
the wind, the rain
the warmth, the chill
ponder upon them
and upon life

or ponder not
just accept them
be glad
and be still

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 ‘Dolce Far Niente’ by John William Waterhouse – … 1880  (Kirkcaldy Galleries)