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,
blinds shielding its secrets
Now
just as they did then
So long ago.

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All 3 photographs … WHB – Yorkshire (2016) and Sussex (2009), UK

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Pushing Up The Daisies

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‘Pushing Up The Daisies’ … WHB – Pen & Wash. May 2017

PUSHING UP THE DAISIES

Where are they now
Gerard and the Craig twins
Doggy Dan  and Luggy Cooper
the Lawrences
Jocky Boyes and Spuggie Hood,
each with a memory attached
their image for me
still young
never ageing?

Could be still out there
my age
and I’m still here,
not waiting
but wanting
wishing
hoping
reliving memories
replaying youth,
recalling lads
lasses too
part of my past
history of my story,
liked,
loved,
and lusted after,
feared
and fretted over,
not given a thought
until now
but they could still be here,
there,
somewhere,
not pushing up the daisies.
Not yet.

Will some of them,
wherever,
still be sleeping
with my dreams?
Others,
as I,
lying sleepless,
thinking these same thoughts,
because
we do have the same history,
minds similarly imprinted,
memories matched
attuned
remembering.

Racing out in the morning
breathless with anticipation
rushing to share our days,
to build the same dams
catch the same minnows
in the same jam jars
leap the same becks
explore the same tunnels
climb the same trees
rocks
hills
fight the same mock battles.
All
forging our own
memories.

And Jim
Jim, the joker,
jumped off Highcliff Nab
while I took his photo,
fell
all of six feet
soft landed
on the turf ledge.
No dying fall,
not kicking up the daisies.

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Not then,
no, he wasn’t then,
he is now.
Long lost
professor of religions
respected author
from beck side cottage,
but now
no thanks to weed and wine
buried deep
in my Memory Lane.
Now pushing up the daisies.

But those of us who remain
short time to run
just enough to practise
treading the ceremonial turf
from below
to push up the daisies.

While now,
above ground
we tread warily
lest their spades
are not ready
when our own time comes
to push up the daisies.

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St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Isles of Orkney

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St.Magnus Cathedral, Kirlwall, Orkney Isles … Photo – WHB, 2010

 

 

 

The northernmost cathedral in the British Isles is dedicated to St. Magnus.  It holds a dominant position overlooking the Orkney capital of Kirkwall.   The building of this magnificent cathedral, was commenced in 1137 at a time when Orkney was ruled by the Vikings.  Masons who had helped build Durham Cathedral came north to build the magnificently stout Norman pillars and arches which remain today.  Originally under Norwegian jurisdiction, the cathedral became a possession of the people of Orkney, not of the church, following a decree of King James III of Scotland in 1486.

 

The building of the cathedral continued for approximately 300 years from 1137.  It is built largely of yellow and red sandstone.  It was dedicated to Magnus Erlendsson, Earl of Orkney who, as a result of greed and jealousy engendered by his cousin, Haakon, was  martyred on the island of Egilsay in 1117.   Magnus was later canonised and his remains brought to Kirkwall from Birsay and interred in a column of the cathedral now dedicated to him.

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Map of Scotland – Orkney Isles & Kirkwall at the top

I publish below just a few of my photographs taken in the cathedral when I visited in 2010.  They are in the form of a slide show, the picture changing every few seconds.

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ancient ice

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ancient ice
increasingly
encircles
as we move
silently
with stealth
into the ice fiord
hesitantly making a
zig-zag passage
towards the unstable
terminus
of the glacier
as it erodes
into the ocean’s edge

increasingly
smotheringly
enclosed by
walls of white and blue
immense
ridge-flanked
jagged-backed
menacingly still
a maze through which
the miniscule craft
threads a passage
towards the minotaur
the glacier’s lowering face
as it crumbles
tumbles
its fronting phalanx
fragmenting
with the occasional
sudden grinding cracking
turmoil
of yet another frozen offshoot
adding to the welter
the crowded pack of
new-born creatures
as the ice mass breaks and
calves
to join the myriad
of off-spring
in the ice ocean

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icefiord (8)
The poem above and the photographs below are based on my visit in 2008 to an ice fiord (where a glacier meets the sea and gradually deposits its ice) on the south-west coast of Greenland near to the settlement of Narsasuaq . . .

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Greenland’s Icebergs

In a previous blog,  ‘Anthropomorphic Ice’ , I used the following two of my photographs from a visit, by cruise ship, to the southern and western shores of Greenland in 2008.  These two photographs were of floating ice, one of which appeared to take the form of a polar bear floating on its back, and the other of a seal hitching a ride on a passing ice floe … 

Icebergs can be seen in many of the world’s oceans, but the western reaches of the North Atlantic are perhaps where they are the most prolific.  It is here, where the multitude of icebergs meet the major transatlantic shipping routes, that the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in 1912. 

I now include below a gallery of photographs, all of which I took on this same trip, along the south west coast of Greenland, travelling north as far as Greenland’s capital, Nuuk.  All are of the extensive ice floes and icebergs which dot the seas around Greenland, after breaking away from the numerous glaciers which deposit their ice into these coastal waters  . . .

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HERALD of SPRING

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Willow Weeping Over the River Lowman, Devon – Photo – WHB – March 2017

HERALD of SPRING

The spring
holds its breath
as winter recedes
Trusting the sun
to bestow its warmth
yet again
on the waiting world
And now
the first burst
of new life
greening buds
on the bough
As the willow
begins to weep
shedding its
joyful tears
into the
awaiting water
and with bliss
blandishing
its delight
and welcoming
life’s rebirth
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Weeping Willow – River Lowman, Tiverton, Devon – WHB – March 2017

General Waste Comes To Town

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GENERAL WASTE COMES TO TOWN

When General Waste first came to town
He brought a squad of others;
They came to clean us up and were
His military brothers.

They stand on corners, pavements edge,
In regimental fashion;
They’re smart and very business-like
And do their job with passion.

Intent on clearing up the streets
Of this, our unkempt town,
These sentinels of conscience stand
And scold us with their frown.

Receptacles of all our litter,
Thriving on our waste;
And if we dare to ignore them
They treat us with distaste.

They’ll tell the world of our disgrace
They’ll make sure we are booked,
And when the final reckoning comes
That won’t be overlooked.

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‘General Waste’ … Photos – WHB – Surrey, UK, 2017

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DEMOLITION – Man & Boy

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DEMOLITION – Man & Boy

What is my joy in destruction?
Why does it give me a kick?
It grants me a sense of elation;
I once thought I was just downright sick.

As a toddler I remember I wanted,
As soon as a tower I’d built,
Just to knock it all over and giggle
Without any feeling of guilt.

Then when I’d taken up Lego,
I’d just love, after building my farm,
To smash it to bits with my mallet;
Didn’t think I was doing it harm.

And when in a History lesson
I said I’d like to have been
One of those men who wrecked churches and abbeys.
 The teacher near ruptured his spleen.

He sent me to see the headmaster,
Saying I must be beyond the pale;
For taking part in such Dissolution
He considered me right off the scale.

They decided I must be a vandal,
And said I would pay for my sins.
Abbeys and shrines were verboten,
I mustn’t wantonly damage such things.

Well, now I’ve left school and I’m happy,
My job suits me down to the ground.
I work hard with great satisfaction,
And no one will push me around.

For now I’m a demolition expert,
I can continue my hobby with pride;
Destruction now is my trade
As on top of a huge truck I ride.

Mechanical shovels and drills,
Excavators and large JCBs,
Bulldozers, cranes and dump trucks,
All these I can manage with ease.

And now that I’m married with children
I watch Joe build towers with his bricks,
Then demolish them with glee and I know
He’s a chip off the old block of tricks.

Thoughts on a Dead Leaf

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Thoughts on a Dead Leaf

It fell
Green life
Extinguished
Time passed
Slowly
It diminished
To its scaffolding
Intact beauty still
New life
Surviving
In the skeleton
Beneath the skin
Revealing the grace
Which had upheld
Its existence
Its structure
Naked now
Spine-bold
Ram-rod straight
Not dead now
Nor even dying
Instead
Skin shed
A statement
Of creation’s power
Holding its tendrils
Steady
In firm formation
Awaiting its
Next chapter

Not yet shredded
Not yet dust
This tomography
Call it a CAT scan
Delving into
Nature’s
secret world
Revealing
The truth
Of whence
Its green strength
Derived

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Thus
As our own surface
Erodes
Do we achieve
The same beauty?
Do we secrete
Analogous
New life
Beneath the old?
We leaves
Fallen from life’s tree
Shrivelled
Our essence revealed
In our skeletal remains
Proud-structured
Until
The next stage
And eventual
Severance
From what we have been
Transmogrified
To further service
In replenishing
New life forms
Our fruition in
The new spring’s bloom
Blossom and leaves

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In death
As in life
Decay
Does not doom us to death
Rather
There is a beauty in death
The leaf ceased to be
A leaf
But became
Something else
And its beauty remained
It merely
Continued
Into a transmuted life
Its fate
As our own
To be
Continued existence

For death is but a metaphor
For new life

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All photographs . . .  by WHB – 2016

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A SIGN TOO FAR

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Street in a Surrey Town .  . .  Photo – WHB 2017

A SIGN TOO FAR

 I was walking down the road the other day
When they met me coming up the other way

I knew not what to do
Not an inkling, not a clue

Should I walk on and ignore them
Should I beg them and implore them

Not to shriek at me so loudly
Not to chastise me so soundly

Just to get out of my way
Let me get on with my day

I really do not wish to buy
I was only passing by

#     #     #

Nor do I feel the urge to hire
A sander or electric fire

Nor will I get an instant thrill
If I just hire a power drill

I surely do not need a sign
To advertise what still is mine

I’ve already got more than a few
So they will really have to do

Nor do I need to learn to drive
I’d rather walk and stay alive

I’ll not describe the fine details
But I don’t need polish for my nails

I reckon I’m a beauty too
Stick your cosmetics down the loo

My laundry is for private use
I don’t subject it to abuse

And as for washing all my smalls
I’d rather use Niagara Falls

My house is not for sale just yet
Say any more – I’ll get upset

And as for gas, my need’s not great
My house is all electric, mate

#     #     #

To be attacked by signs is bad
It leaves me feeling very sad
That my main street has reached the stage
When just to earn a living wage
These shops must now our street deface
By planting signs in every place
Leaving me so little space
I think I’m in an obstacle race

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