Sunday, 12 December 2010

Finland #16

I struggled through
the deep snow
with more following fast

i struggled through
the bitter cold and
with more following fast

I struggled through
hunger and tiredenss
with more following fast

eventually arrived at Walhalla
and what's this to say about my journey
it was closed!

poem and photo by Ian

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Many a Bright Star

Another one of our Poets, Paul Wilkins, has produced a book of his poems: "Many a Bright Star". This is a collection of his poems that include poems that he has written for special occasions. I will let Paul explain more:
"Hi to all you great poetry book readers; here is a book with a difference – profile poems of famous people. I started doing poems of famous people and have kept an eye out for any special occasion these people have had to mark with a special profile-like poem and have done many over the years. I have sent each of them a copy of what I did for them and all who replied expressed pleasure at what they read. Enjoy reading the large selection in this book."

For more details you can find his website here, some of the replies he has had here and the link to the book here

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Preston Poets Calendar 2011

The Society has created a lovely appointment style calendar for 2011. It contains gorgeous photos from blankets of snow to deer and lovely countryside. Every photo is accompanied with a couple of lines of poetry, all created by the Society members.

It is a calendar that I am sure that can be enjoyed by all!

For only £3.

It can be bought at the Preston Tourist Information Centre and at the Harris Museum. Otherwise please ask a Society Member or email .

Iceland #16

like saving an ice cube
in the sun

youth and beauty
may melt away

but the important part remains
like the life giving water

photo and poem by Ian

Thursday, 30 September 2010

*Star Haiku*

If you concentrate
the dark sky will show Venus
and two shiny stars

by Ian F
written in a tent in Iceland

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Rimbaud's poetry - revisit

A little revisit to a poet that Vincent chose to speak about. We have had a comment sent to us which may be of interest as it includes another translation of the poem Vowels.....

George Dance said...
I've written my own translation of Rimbaud's "Vowels", which IMO compares favourably to the others extant, Allow me to give your readers a link.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Estonia Poetry revisit

Just to follow on from Ian's speech on Estonian poet Gustav Suits here is a small article on the poem on the Independance Monument in Tallinn.

The Poem on Eesti Vabadussammas
The poem in full can be found here ,but only...

The first part of the poem on the monument :

Tõsta lipp! Las aja käänul
lehvib tõotus tuulte väänul
üle mandri, üle vee:
tund on tulnud vannet vandu,
ei iial enam andu
ikke alla rahvas see!

quite untranslatable
word by word.

the main idea
that this (see)
nation (rahvas)
will vow
(in the poem 'tund (the hour)
on tulnud (has come)
vannet (the oath in 3rd form)
vandu (to vow)')
never (iial)
to be occupied
by anyone
any more
('andu ikke alla'
- really old
and poetic
way to say
'not be occupied').

Thank you to Katrin for this and her blog and more poems and such like can be found here

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Terry Quinn's New Poetry Collection

Our different members have had poems published in various magazines recently (details can be seen in the downloadable newsletter). Terry is one of them and has followed this with a publication of his own: "Away".

Barbara Dordi of Equinox describes this colletion:

"Terry Quinn’s poetry is accessible, not mystified; he has the knack of using everyday language which marries well with the often ‘ordinary’ subject matter. But his poems invariably have a subtext which belies the surface subject matter – an unexpectedness – both pleasing and intriguing, which has become the hallmark of his poetry".

And in his foreword to the book Terry writes :

"Much to my surprise I’ve just discovered that very few poetry books contain a Foreword. So it’s a bit embarrassing in this first collection to have one. But read the first poem.

There’s three points I want to make:

1. Due to a lifelong addiction to the sports’ pages I tend to read poetry books from back to front. And that’s still possible in this case, however, the poems are arranged as a journey from Norway down the East coast of the UK, looping through Europe, up the West coast, Scotland and back.

2. Hence the title ‘Away’, though it’s not the only reason. There are no prizes for guessing that ‘Home’ and ‘Draw’ are in the pipeline. It’s time to get something out of the Pools.

3. Not so long ago I received a poem back with the comment that the poem was well liked but that the language was ‘too plain’. As I’d spent weeks, if not months, trying to achieve that very effect I didn’t know whether to be flattered or annoyed. But it does highlight what I detest most about a strand of British poetry that seems to think that obscurity equals poetry. That doesn’t mean a poem shouldn’t have layers. But make them readable, as poetry, through all those layers.

If you are interested in buying this collection then please either email us or ask at the next meeting. And for a sample of his poetry you can find one at this link

Monday, 12 July 2010

Poets from around the World #4 - Gustav Suits (Võnnu, Estonia)

Gustav Suits – Estonian Poet: Identity and Independence. by Ian Fairey

Gustav Suits was an Estonian poet born in 1883. He is considered to be one of the greatest poets of the country.

First I think I should explain the place he came from. Estonia is a country that lies south across the Baltic Sea from Finland. Finland is also considered to be one of the closest neighbours in consideration to the language. On the Eastern border of Estonia is Russia and on the south border is Latvia another Baltic state.
The Estonian landscape is very flat with the highest peak (Egg Hill) being around 318m, which is smaller then the size of Rivington Pike, Lancashire. The area of Estonia is about 45,000 Km2 which is bigger then the size of Wales, however its population is about 1.3 million people. This means there is a lot of room for nature and nature reserves including forests with wolves, bears , places to pick blueberries and hundreds of species of birds. As well as a lot of nature there is a room for a lot of little towns.
Gustav Suits was born to a village teacher in one of these tiny towns called Võnnu in the late 19th century. During this time Estonia was part of the Russian Empire, having in the past been ruled by countries such as Germany and Sweden. Twelve years later Suits moved to Tartu. Tartu is the second largest city in Estonia, smaller in population then Preston, Lancashire.

Suits had his first poem published when at the age of 16 and a couple of years later he was involved in a literature circle of school children. They were called The friends of Literature and included A.H. Tammsaare who would become, as some would see, Estonia’s greatest novelist.

Suits was then involved in with a group called Noor Eesti (which translated is Young Estonia). Young Estonia followed on from the national movement in the late 19th century in literature. (In the late 19th century Kalevipoeg the national epic was written, which was composed of various folktales of Estonia. This epic along with other poets and writers could be seen as a pre-cursor to Young Estonia.

Suits wrote the phrase in one of their publications saying “ Let us be Estonians, but also become Europeans”. Which may give an indication of the viewpoint of Estonians at the time.

Historians have varied views on Young Estonia group. Some say that is started a new Era in Estonian Literature, however others say that it just continued on what was started in the 19th Century. Anyway Young Estonia tried to extend literature influences to France and Nordic Countries. Although some people criticised the group for being alien, that they imitated other nations and other criticisms the group was essential in Estonian literature development.

After spending some time in Finland Suits was offered the position of Professor at the university in Tartu. This was in 1921 and just a few years into independence for Estonia. At the university there was some development in the fact that he was the first professor of literature to teach in Estonian, and his work as a scholar and professor as groundbreaking. He wrote papers on older Estonian work and made contacts and lectures through Europe.

However independence did not last long, only lasting 22 years from 1918. Estonia only seeing independance again in 1991. In 1941 Suits house was burnt down and his many scholarly papers were lost. He fled to Stockholm via Finland , along with many other Estonians. He did manage to continue his scholarly work and produce more poetry before he died in Stockholm, where he is now buried.

He is an important figure in Estonia and one of his poems is quoted on a monument for independance in Tallinn.

I have found two poems of Suits to try and show some of the themes I tried to pick out in my talk. His poetry had various themes including militant and romantic.
He had a collection of poems called Land of Winds. Some people suggest that this was his name for Estonia, others that it was about himself. The two poems I chose were "My Island" and "Under Quivering Aspens". Both of these can be found here to read along with two other poems.

I know I have said nothing new here but I hope this has inspired you to find out more!

There are plenty of resources out there on the background to the Russian Empire, Baltic Singing Revolutions, Estonia itself etc etc.
However you may struggle to find some information on Estonian Poetry. So here are some resources that I used for my talk:
Estonian Literary Magazine and Article on Gustav Suits
Wikipedia entry for Gustav

and of course my adventures in Estonia... which can be found on this Estonian/English Poetry and Creativity Blog

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Poets from around the World #3 - Arthur Rimbaud (Charleville, France)

Arthur Rimbaud by Vincent Smith

Arthur Rimbaud was born in Charleville in 1954. He was a prodigy but also a bit of a delinquent, rude and undisciplined. One of his teachers made a prophetic statement – “he is intelligent but has eyes and a smile I do not like … he will end badly. He will be the genius of good or evil”. As a teenager he ran away to Paris on several occasions and tried unsuccessfully to get his poems published. Later he thought of sending copies to the established poet Paul Verlaine, who invited him to come to Paris to stay with him and his family. However, Rimbaud was so dirty, unkempt and rude that he upset everybody and was ordered out of the house. Verlaine was so besotted with the young genius that he went with him and they spent a period living together and having a homosexual relationship. They went to London and worked as French teachers, but Verlaine wanted to end the affair and one evening after a drunken quarrel he produced a pistol and fired two shots at Rimbaud. He was arrested and although Rimbaud was not seriously hurt, was imprisoned for two years.

Rimbaud took up with another writer, Germain Nouveau and in 1874 went with him to London. But Nouveau saw the danger to his own reputation of being associated with Rimbaud and he quickly ended their relationship.

Rimbaud gave up his literary pretensions and spent the rest of his life wandering around Europe and farther afield, doing largely unsavoury jobs. He worked as a mercenary in Java and a gun runner in Ethiopia, where, under the cover of a legitimate business he was also involved in the slave trade. In 1891 he developed what was almost certainly bone cancer and had an unpleasant last few months. He had a leg amputated but the cancer spread rapidly and he died in late 1891 at the age of 37. All his poetry had been written before the age of 21, yet he had an important influence on the direction poetry was to take.

One of his most famous poems is about vowels, in which he assigns a different colour to each one. Much has been written trying to analyse the meaning, but Rimbaud himself said it had none, that he was just experimenting with ideas and sounds. Here it is in the original, followed by a literal translation.

Both the original French and the English versions can be found

Poets from around the World #2 - Thomas Hardy (Dorset , England)

We were also entertained with grand performances of poems. One of which was Thomas Hardy's The Ruined Maid. Unfortunately we have no recording of this but I have put some links below for you to look at.

The Ruined Maid by Thomas Hardy. Hardy was born in 1840 in Dorset and was a Novelist and poet. More information about him can be found here

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Poets from around the World #1 - Edgar Allan Poe (Boston, US)

Recently the Preston Poets were asked to give a talks on Poets of the World at the Brownedge Festival. This is the first of the poets for you to read about.

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) by Gwen Weiss

Edgar Allan Poe was born in Massachusetts USA on 19th January 1809. He was the son of travelling actors David and Elizabeth Arnold Poe. His father, an alcoholic, deserted the family which included a brother and a sister, and his mother died when he was two years old, and Poe was fostered by a prosperous Scottish merchant, John Allan, in Richmond.

Allan always refused to adopt Poe which led to bad feeling between them. The family moved to Scotland for a time and also lived in England returning to America in 1820. He fell in love with Sarah Elmira Royston but lost touch with her when he was at university.

Despite considerable academic success, after one year at the University of Virginia, his gambling debts forced him to leave, and by 1827 Poe with typical restlessness had moved from Boston to Richmond and then back to Boston again. On learning that Sarah had married he joined the army by saying he was twenty two although he was only eighteen and gained a good reputation, which he joined in 1827, but spent a miserable year at the US Military academy at West Point in 1930 before being dishonourably discharged, which he had deliberately engineered and it was at this point John Allan washed his hands of him.

He stayed in Baltimore from 1831 – 35 and began writing more seriously, working as a journalist earning a bare minimum on which to survive and from 1835 he began to edit the Southern Literary Messenger, from which he was sacked for being drunk. He was involved with several magazines thereafter and in 1836 he secretly married his 13 year-old cousin Virginia, her age being recorded on the marriage certificate as twenty -one. He later married her again in a large public ceremony.

Around this time he turned to writing short stories which revealed a fascination with emotional extremes, particularly fear, though his essays show that he was capable of being objective and critical. His early fiction tales, starring the fictitious detective C. Auguste Dupin laid the groundwork for future detectives in literature and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said of his work that ‘ Each (of Poe’s detective stories) is a root from which a whole literature has developed…where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?’ The Mystery Writers of America have named their awards for excellence in the genre as ‘the Edgars.’

He was also admired by Jules Verne and H,G. Wells for his science fiction work.

In 1844 he moved to New York but despite popular acclaim his life was still wretched and remained poor. Virginia died of tuberculosis in 1847 and Poe, still poor and an alcoholic died in Baltimore two years later aged just forty.

As well as admirers, it seems that he also made enemies because after his death a long obituary in the New York Tribune, signed by a man using the pen name Ludwig, stated ‘ Edgar Allen Poe is dead…This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it.’. He was soon identified as a Rufus Wilmot Griswold, an editor, critic and anthologist who had borne a grudge against Poe since 1842, and he set out to destroy Poe’s reputation after his death. He wrote a biographical article ‘Memoir of an Author’ depicting Poe as a depraved , drunk, drug addled, madman and included letters purported to have been written by the author. This biography sold well but was denounced by people who knew the victim well, and was later proved to be made up of lies and the letters were forgeries.

Conversely his work was often criticised by such as Ralph Waldo Emmerson who said of his work ‘The Raven,’ a poem which made him a household name , “ I see nothing in it.”; Aldous Huxley wrote that Poe’s work ‘falls into vulgarity by being too poetical - the equivalent of wearing a diamond ring on every finger.’

Many of his poems are very long and personally I found them flowery and difficult to follow but I enjoyed his rather macabre short stories such as ‘Murder in the Rue Morgue,’ ‘The Pit and the Pendulum,’ and ‘The Purloined Letter, this last demonstrating his interest in ciphers.’

The Poem read on the evening was "To My Mother" and other poems can be found here along with more information here

Thursday, 6 May 2010

East End

Irresistible forces compel me to go
through the smoke-filled places I used to know,
from the bridge where the Don and the Rother meet
to the Wicker Arches and Saville Street.
The Gates to Hell as I used to think,
where hopes would be vanquished and hearts would sink
as the tram approached from the city side:
a monument now to Civic Pride.
The Gates to Hell, but no longer so,
for the smoking chimneys and furnace glow,
the iron and steel and the shunting tracks,
the cobbled yards and the back-to-backs
are vanished, and only the names remain
of Attercliffe Common and Brightside Lane,
Berkley and Belmoor and Carltonville,
the wreck of a foundry, the tomb of a mill,
in cairns of rubble awaiting the day
when even they will be carted away,
and who knows what shimmering phoenix may spring
from the ashes where so many yesterdays cling.
But pasts more than mine in the ashes are strewn,
where wealth came too late and destruction too soon,
and my gratitude falls and my garlands are laid
on the riches their decades of labour have made.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Why am I here?

Why am I here
they keep asking me
and I have asked myself
so many times

And I have asked myself
in many places
looking in each corner for the truth
but if there was any it had seemingly gone

I once tried looking in Valhalla
but it was snowed up
and it was definately closed
what can that tell me about life?

Another time viewing beauty
in all the scenic landscapes
but the loveliness soon escaped me
fading like a dreamlike memory

And yet again trying to find "the zone" in cities
with the bustling busy backstreets
which are full of tourist facts and figures
the only meaning told through friendly faces

I thought maybe I was here to spend all my money
I tried that once
buying ice lollipops in the snow
but still hang onto 5 EEKs in my wallet

Maybe I am here to keep a promise
Something that would hold me duty bound
but even a this has no meaning
without a currency behind it

Finally it occured it was a subconcious thought
the mallard duck's wing flashing
its colours of here and now
but surely one would be foolish chasing birds?

So why am i here?

A friend asks just before I leave
If I had done everything I wanted
and Yes.

I saw you again.

by Ian (mallard in helsinki)

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

The Poets Laurete

Twenty poets have held the post of Laureate
Since John Dryden was the first to have the honour
Bestowed way back in sixteen sixty eight
Thomas Shadwell came next, a political choice
Chosen to give the Protestants a voice.
Not much of a thought provoker
His work was mainly mediocre.
(not helped by the fact he was a prolific opium smoker)
Tate was next, he was fairly bright
Remembered mainly for his carol about ‘Shepherds watching
their flocks by night’.
With the arrival of Nicholas Rowe the post changed somehow
Less political now was the aim
More to raise the profile of the ruling sovereign
Laurence Eusden and Colly Cibber did the minimum required
At best it was said their work was uninspired
Whitehead, Wharton and Henry James Pye each graced the office
But sadly to say didn’t live up to their promise.
Robert Southey stepped in when Sir Walter Scott declined
And for thirty years did the job he was assigned
William Wordsworth the oldest accepted under duress
After all, at 73 he could do without the stress
Alfred Lord Tennyson, well what can you say,
His biggest success we still quote from today.
Hugely popular a great impact was made
Remember from school ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’
To Austin and Bridges we don’t give much thought
Nothing of significance to say or report.
John Masefield, now here’s an achiever
Mostly renowned for his popular ‘Sea Fever’
Cecil Day Lewis embraced the post and was quite enthusiastic
His works tended towards the melancholy or romantic.
Sir John Betjeman, accessible and humorous
His ‘Bombs on Slough’ appealed to the masses.
Ted Hughes, Yorkshire born, brooding, introspective
Often misunderstood, but generally respected.
Andrew Motion, first Poet Laureate to retire or be retired,
(not counting John Dryden who was fired)
Brought a breath of fresh air to a post he was unsure of at first
Forward thinking, promoted poetry among the young, tried to create a thirst.
Carol Ann Duffy, the first woman Poet Laureate in history, takes up the post
for ten years.
She’s claiming her sherry, so it’s bottoms up, cheers.
So folks, a new face – watch this space.
Joan Yates

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Prince Charles Is Now 60

Prince Charles has been around for a while
Bringing to many people in this country a smile
It’s his 60th birthday today
At which we all say hip hip hurray
He’s going to have an influence on the future of Britain forever
Continually bringing people together
He with the Princes Trust awards came out
Helping change young people’s lives no doubt
Also giving a lot of business and charity support
Showing to many a nice kind thought
He’s going to have an influence on the future of Britain forever
Continually bringing people together
Prince Charles loves time at the Highgrove home
Where he does farming, with others or on his own
He’s interested in Architecture too
As are also quite a few
He’s going to have an influence on the future of Britain forever
Continually bringing people together
From all of Prince Charles we have seen
He’s fully worthy of successing the Queen
But not knowing what the future has to tell
We’re still sure for him everything will go well
He’s going to have an influence on the future of Britain forever
Continually bringing people together
Paul Wilkins

Friday, 19 February 2010

Nobody Inn

McDade Trophy First Place
I’m losing track of the times you’ve been
to study the Perpendicular screen
at quaint little Dunchidoke.
So I followed you down, as I’d secretly planned,
and now I’m beginning to understand,
for here you sit with the country folk
at the Nobody Inn, and I hope you choke
on your Winterman slims and your peppermint crush;
no wonder you fidget, no wonder you blush,
and shuffle about on your bar-stool perch,
for you never went anywhere near the church
at quaint little Dunchidoke.
And unless I’m mistaken, the tower I saw
when I glanced just now through the open door,
is elegant Doddiscombsleigh.
Famed for its fourteenth century glass,
which you’ll hardly match and you can’t surpass
in a British church, you keep telling me,
to excuse your visits, but now I see
that to learn its mystery your only hope
is a seat by the door and a telescope
on elegant Doddiscombsleigh.
Your subterfuge was a tour de force,
so I’m not in the least annoyed of course,
but in future, I’m coming too.
From humble churches we’ll shift our sights
to collegiate, cathedral and abbey heights,
but chosen to be, as your favourites are,
at their most impressive when viewed from afar,
or merely imagined, like Dunchidoke,
(assisted, it seems, by Bacardi and coke,
pommes frites in the basket and café noir,
with yellow Chartreuse and cigars from the bar.)
But I think that a four star (or five) accolade
would more properly fit with the status and grade
of cathedrals and abbeys, I know quite a few
with a splendid cuisine and an excellent view.
You’re flushed with excitement already, I see,
let’s map out tomorrow’s itinerary,
and I’ll show you what I can do.
Exeter – what better place to start,
splendidly Dec in its greater part,
as I think your Pevsner says.
We’ll start at two, for conveniently,
the Clarence Hotel does an afternoon tea
which lasts all day till aperitif time,
when we’ll sit in the bar with a gin and lime
and study the close with a reverent gaze,
admiring the Tudor and Georgian bays,
the iron bridge and the cobbled court,
unaltered in any material sort
since early Victorian days.
We’ll stay for dinner and when that’s done,
with coffee and cognac we’ll watch the sun
dipping below the trees,
and silhouetting the Norman towers –
we’ll order more cognac and sit for hours.
In plush red velvet we’ll take our ease
overlooking the close for as long as we please.
And perhaps we’ll book a room and stay,
and with morning tea at the break of day,
we’ll lie in bed with the curtain raised …
Are you feeling well? Your eyes have glazed,
and your colour has passed through red and green
and finished a sort of ultramarine –
of the kind you find on twenty pound notes.
Better pay the bill while I fetch our coats,
and we’ll get away from the fumes and smoke
and take a stroll down to Dunchidoke.
A hazy sun and a healthy breeze
will clear your head, but one moment please –
I think I could manage before we go,
a gin and Italian, Blackforest gateau,
and a little more Camembert cheese.
Vincent Smith

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


McDade Trophy 2nd Place

The shock when you said,
at fifteen, ‘Sit down,
I’m pregnant, it’s ok;
the arrangements are made;
don’t tell Dad.’
Those long nights awake,
adjusting, then watching
your schoolgirl frame grow tired;
I wrote deceitful notes
to your teacher
to excuse you from dance,
waited in terrified secrecy
for the clinic,
cash payment, and overnight stop,
your first stay away from us.
While the world turned, as it does,
the boyfriend moved on,
and after a time, so did you.
I began to count time,
guilt rising in my gut,
imagining ‘it’ now at 2, 6 and 10,
wondering how our lives might have been.
Fifteen years on
you’re accomplished,
a joy, a dancer, a beauty
with a husband who loves you.
But the pain when
your babies, in quick succession,
abort themselves,
1, 2, 3, 4,
leave us flailing,
our empty wombs wailing,
our mothers’ arms heavy
with wanting.
I see them, you know;
they hang from your skirt,
your coat sleeves,
the ends of your long blond hair.
Your children,
they call you by name.
Dorothy Nelson

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The Legend of Chalky the Painter

McDade Trophy 3rd Place

He was a painter and decorator, Chalky White,
But his mission lay elsewhere.
In his paint-splattered smock and ratting cap
He spent his days in a snooker shack
Potting balls with assiduous care.
Chalky was tall, energetic with a dark mop of hair,
Nothing that shouted ‘good at the game’.
He’d arrive in the morning with a bob or two
To draw the unwary passing through
Into a friendly ‘low-risk’ frame.
He was no professional, no great hustling man,
More a whirl than a whirlwind in fact,
But his aim was good when the chips were down,
He’d sink a long red and make it count
On pay days when tenners were stacked.
He’d lose the first frame, but the next was backed double,
And he’d raise his game a notch.
A fiver became ten, then twenty or more,
The locals would gather round the floor
And Chalky cleared up while they watched.
There were two flies in the ointment that spoilt this script,
The first was Harry the Snout,
A prison warder from Cardiff Bay
He ground down opponents with his safety play,
Picked up points after they’d hit out.
The first time they met, Chalky gave best to the Snout.
A red was loose near the pack,
But the gap was as tight as a mortise lock
When he chalked his tip with his trusty block,
Sighted low with stun for the black.
The red span round the pocket but stayed out the crack,
Chalky knew he’d made a mistake,
Not fatal, he thought, it was early days –
Lots of players had devious ways –
But the Snout made a frame-winning break.
Next time he played Harry, he was more circumspect,
Potted balls with safety in mind,
The result was a rack that lasted an hour,
Equal they were, and equally dour,
Snooker worriers, two of a kind.
The painter won that game, the warder the next two,
But the hours and days passed by.
The length of the frames led to Chalky’s fall,
His bread and butter work went to the wall
And Rose White wanted to know why.
To the hall of green baize stormed Rose, her temper inflamed,
Chalky had missed five jobs or more.
She was a big woman, Rose, with arms like hams,
Legs like young oaks from pushing prams.
What followed went down into lore.
‘Where’s our Chalky! Where’s our Chalky!’ Twice Rose called,
A giant figure framed in the door.
The ball clicking stopped, cues clunked on the baize,
No-one had seen such an angry gaze,
Chalky ducked, lay prone on the floor.
Rose’s nose twitched like a hound as she looked down the hall,
Took three giant steps inside,
She was on the scent, a whiff of emulsion,
Turpentine, primer, his old caulking gun!
There was no place for Chalky to hide!
‘Where’s our Chalky!’ she growled, menace in every word.
Legends are made of flimsy lore,
But the painter’s escape was pure Robin Hood:
Errol Flynn’s exploits weren’t half as good
As Chalky White’s run from that hall.
He saw Rose’s big toe just two tables away,
Then to his great horror, her face.
Words were not spoken, it was an action scene.
He rose up; his wife did the same.
The mind of the quarry raced.
He looked to the left, the right, beyond and behind.
There was no route out but the door.
Rose edged to the side. ‘You lying crook!’
Chalky’s hand reached down for the hook
That supported the extension cue,
Came up with the pole like a Waterloo lancer,
Took ten steps back to the wall
Then charged full tilt, planted the thick butt end,
Vaulted the table end to end,
Landed on the next, among balls.
Running light-footed over the lamp-lit baize
He leapt from table to table.
Like a fire dancer on stepping stones,
Fred Astaire could not have crossed those zones
Faster than Chalky the Painter.
He didn’t pause at the door, went out like an eel,
Rose followed like a fast moving barge,
But her man was already down the stairs.
‘Come back, Chalky!’ It froze the hairs
On bald men’s heads, but he’d charged
Like El Cid into the sunset, on, on, out of sight,
The legendary vaulter, Chalky White.
Martin Domleo


Jackie Hayes 1936-2009

I see her clearly
In the Secretary’s chair.
She has been
Through the minutes
With her usual quiet dignity
(No rowdy comments
From the floor
At this Society’s meetings).
She reminds us
That it is to be an evening
Of members’ poems.
We are seated in a three-
Quarter circle,
Faces lifted, attentive.
Jackie reads ‘Slow Dusk Fading’,
Perfect diction
For a perfect poem
And quietly, so quietly;
Unbullied we listen.
She sweetens the words
With tincture of honey.
The fit is perfect,
Polished and even
Like the granite blocks
Of the ancients.
Past the last word we listen
Into silence
Into warm and distant echoes.
Jackie could bring a stone to faith.

Martin Domleo

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Winter Newsletter Online

You can now view the Winter Newsletter Online. This features all the news articles. The poetry will feature on this site as indiviual articles.

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