Shag Tobacco

In my wee poem below I try to convey a certain feeling that comes over me sometimes, wandering the banks of the River Weaver.

Best Wishes to you all for 2015.

 

SHAG TOBACCO

 

A wisp of shag tobacco, perhaps?

A balloon adrift in the valley,

self-esteem a snapped mooring.

 

So the willowed water’s edge I wander,

sun glaring from plankton depths,

brain percolating,

florescent fungus twitching with broom.

 

Humble I connect.

Proud and the poetry eludes me.

A wisp of shag tobacco, perhaps?

 

Paul Beech

 

Copyright © Paul Beech 2015

[First published on the author’s blog, Grandy’s Landing.]

 

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Too Much Blue

During my career in social housing, the work I loved best was helping the homeless.  Sadly, domestic violence was all too often the cause.  And Christmas was a bad time to be on the street with nowhere to go…

 

TOO MUCH BLUE

Paul Beech

 

Her unborn kicks as weary she rests on a frozen bench in a bleak northern town.

Seven hours have passed since she fled his fists with naught but the babe in her womb, the clothes on her back and a small knotted bundle.  Seven hours of bus after bus, caring not where she went, only to pile up the miles behind her.  He mustn’t find her.  Must never find her.

The darkening clouds have a purple tinge, a sure sign of snow.  Strangers hurry by; crows croak in a foreign tongue.  Across the road, outside the Town Hall, garishly lit with coloured lights, stands a Christmas tree.

A headscarf bobs before her.  A withered hand points to a door.  A modest side-door with a department sign outside.   Her unborn kicks.  Then stiffly she rises, bundle in hand.

Too much blue, she thinks, crossing.  Too much blue.

O for a splash of gold…

 

~~

 

Copyright © Paul Beech 2013

[Previously posted on Linkedin and the author’s own blog, Grandy’s Landing.]

Box Brownie

 

One day last spring I opened the brown canvas case that had lain gathering dust in a corner of my study.  From it I took the camera I had as a Lancashire lad in the late-50s, my Kodak Brownie Flash II.  I was a keen young photographer back then, proud of my “Box Brownie”, the first camera I’d ever owned.  The funny thing was how familiar it still felt as I ran my fingertips over its black leatherette skin.  Looking through the viewfinder for the first time in over half a century brought a lump to my throat and sent me in search of old albums…

 

BOX BROWNIE

 

My old Box Brownie, parents young I clicked.

Tenderly still, in black-and-white, they cling;

Penmaenmawr sunsets for my album picked.

My old Box Brownie, parents young I clicked,

Barely out of short trousers, my quiff slicked.

Viewfinder clear, I feel you near and sing.

 

My old Box Brownie, parents young I clicked;

Tenderly still, in black-and-white, they cling.

 

Paul Beech

 

Copyright © Paul Beech 2014

(Previously published on Linkedin and the author’s own blog, Grandy’s Landing.)

The Brave

 

 

I shall be wearing a poppy with pride today, and observing the two minute silence on the stroke of eleven, for it is Remembrance Day in the UK, when those brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for us in the First and Second World Wars, and later conflicts, are remembered.

 

THE BRAVE

 

Paul Beech

 

Extracts from the diary of an Old Soldier, long since deceased:

 

Tuesday 16.vii.18, Netley Hospital

 

So many times have I followed the bayonet, Gerry bullets singing in my ears, the thunder-rush of shells bursting orange in mud & guts, yet nary a scratch sustained. Oh, the irony of it, that a micro-organism should have caused my languishing here, in the company of one whose injury – as confided to me, & contrary to the official findings – was not so much accidental as self-inflicted, a contemptible “Blighty Wound.”

Aye, but I am guilty too, despite my citation and Military Medal: guilty of surviving good pals on the line. So when, this morning, with a broken piece of cup, the wretch did hack at his wrists, it was with some rage I stopped him.

“Nay, laddie, that is not the way,” I bellowed. “Give o’ ye best & be a man, damn you!”

The nurse came bustling at my summons, so pure of countenance and gentle her brogue that I thrilled as my pals in Picardy will no more. Her name is Bridget & between us, surely, we have an understanding of sorts…

Tuesday 30.v.44, Larkin Lodge

 

So long has it been, I am almost beyond hope. Oh Rosslyn, dearest daughter, with your lovely face pure as your late Irish mother’s, your gentle voice musical too.  Seven weeks – aye: seven weeks, three days, six hours, thirty-two minutes.  The rain came pelting earlier; now each passing second is marked by the slow drip of the gutter.

I press your knitting to my face, your every loving stitch a wonder. They wanted you away, didn’t they?  France again, of course, to work with the Marquis by moonlight, with stealth & purpose, a fortune in francs on your head no doubt, that volume of poetry your constant companion & talisman.

It is time – time to summon my courage & open the package that arrived this morning by some mysterious means. I fumble, the brown paper rips…& nay, I am not mistaken: it’s the Rimbaud.

“Elle a été trahie en Picardie,” runs the anonymous note enclosed. She was betrayed in Picardy.

Mrs B brings watercress sandwiches on a tray & tucks a napkin under my chin.

Oh Rosslyn…

 

***

 

The Old Soldier received official word exactly one week later, on Tuesday 6th June 1944 – D-Day.

 

-oOo-

© Copyright Paul Beech 2012

Hexed

 

Here’s a Halloween triolet in which I eschew the usual trappings…

 

HEXED

 

Temptress, witch, you live atop the valley;

I know of you not one thing but evil.

Helpless, hexed, I too am drawn to dally.

Temptress, witch, you live atop the valley;

My soiled heart you add to your tally.

Head clasped, I deny the grubbing weevil.

Temptress, witch, you live atop the valley;

I know of you not one thing but evil…

 

Paul Beech

 

Copyright © Paul Beech 2013

[Previously published on Linkedin and the author’s own blog, Grandy’s Landing.]

Poems for National Poetry Day 2014

 

Today is National Poetry Day 2014 and the theme for this year is REMEMBER.

Below are contributions from myself and Maureen Weldon.

In the following poem I remember a certain someone from long, long ago. I wrote ‘Rainy Dates’ wandering Talacre beach in North Wales and inscribed the first stanza in the sand with a razor shell as a pair of cormorants headed west beyond the lighthouse, low over waves burnished gold in the sunset…

 

RAINY DATES

 

Cats sprawl in the sun,

Kids throw snowballs in winter,

Your eyes haunt me still.

 

Rainy dates long ago,

Dry white and mandolin,

Steamy breath mingling.

 

Echoes of the anvil,

Victorian lamplight,

Hand in hand, alone.

 

Scents of the earth,

Spirits on the ether,

Our shadows in timeless flight.

 

A kiss beneath dripping boughs,

Your smile and words so simple:

“You’ve come home.”

 

Haiku inscribed in the sand,

Cormorants at sunset,

Dreamy blue eyes.

 

Paul Beech

 

Copyright © Paul Beech 2008

[Originally published on Airings, Autumn 2008]

~~

Over to Maureen…

 

A couple of years ago I went on a workshop to this extraordinary place, a place never to be forgotten.

RHYDYMWYN

 

Yesterday was a walking day,

in a Welsh Valley – whispers

past an ice age.

‘Invited guests only,’ we were told.

Like sharing dreams

we wandered to the wetland

where teasel flowers live;

nesting boxes for sand martins;

big sandy cylinders on poles;

a sort of porch, an extension on the edge.

 

Yesterday was a walking day,

in the Welsh Valley.

‘Hush, hush’ World War Two:

the making of mustard gas,

bombs, and the nearly splitting of the atom.

Hush, hush bats live there now

in the high tower laboratory.

 

Yesterday was a walking day,

in that Welsh Valley.

It was Autumn.

Being so old, yet young,

the sun dipped and dyed

colours on the trees. Wind

made a slight rustle, round a sleeping Ash.

Yes the trees remember, remember.

 

Maureen Weldon

 

Copyright © Maureen Weldon

[First published Crannog Poetry Journal, Eire]

Until I was in my late twenties every Saint Patrick’s Day, we, my parents and close friends made for one of the beautiful strands by the wild Atlantic sea of County Cork.  This was a joyful event.

SAINT PATRICK’S DAY

 

Tonight I should be dancing jigs and reels,

Proudly covering my head in shamrock;

Green, very green from head to foot;

And the deep dark porter carrying the cream.

‘Slainte. Cead Mile Failte.’

 

Far, far away I remember

On Saint Patrick’s day – picnics

In Ross Carbery, Ownahincha, Bantry bay.

Did the ghosts of my friends

Picnic there today?

 

Maureen Weldon

 

Copyright © Maureen Weldon

[First published New Hope International]

The Comet

 

THE COMET

 

Moonlight, daffodils, a weeping willow,

and in the northern sky a comet

with a ghostly tail.  The letter

was my last hope, and time

was running out for a reply.  Soon

the comet would be gone, my heart

with it.

 

Every night the mail tray,

checking and rechecking then stuffing

it all back, the comet a little lower,

a little brighter.  Daffodils and dreams,

your voice and your tender smile.

 

Another full moon,

a spray of white blossom,

my footsteps hollow on the broken path.

 

Paul Beech

 

Copyright © Paul Beech 1997

(Previously published on the author’s own blog, Grandy’s Landing.)

Moondust

 

MOONDUST

 

A silvered bay, calm.

 

The moon shines in his window,

coolly observant:

detritus on desk,

scribbled blotter ivory,

coffee-cup rings brown…

 

The poet lives on,

passion and pain aquiver

in pearly moondust.

 

Paul Beech

 

Copyright © Paul Beech 2013

(Previously published on Linkedin and the author’s own blog, Grandy’s Landing.)

Cruising

CRUISING

 

First night at sea,

Your poetry faint in the wash,

Your prose crystal in the spray.

 

Second night,

A storm in the Bay of Biscay,

Bows plunging, rock music pumping.

 

Guitars flash and you laugh

As I twirl you in a tipsy dance,

Your hair flying.

 

Crazy wind, crazy rain,

We slip and slide the wet deck,

Cling together and kiss.

 

Third night, sunset,

Warm in the golden waves,

Poetry, prose, your shy almond eyes…

 

Paul Beech

 

~~

 

Copyright © Paul Beech 2012

(Previously published on Linkedin and the author’s own blog, Grandy’s Landing.)

Granny Red

Granny Red 

Paul Beech

 

Another one sails up in a skirl of buggy wheels.  ‘Hiya, hiya,’ to the mums.  ‘Hiya,’ to Tom.

Big soft Tom is popular with the mums, unlike the grizzled geezer with a bald crown.  He’d chance a greeting himself – course he would – if only they’d meet his eye.  It makes him feel an oddity…no, invisible.

Perched on the weathervane, a rook calls over the schoolyard, its raucous cry tripping into something nearly speech, something nearly the jabber of the clustered mums.

As the bell rings for home time (or park time, as it is for most of the kids), he becomes aware of a woman at his side.  She’s about his own age, pretty in her day, now blond-on-grey, a granny in a red coat.  Her smile is timorous, his grin almost foolish.  Their granddaughters are best friends.  And here they come now with their bags and lunchboxes, his little goblin and her little princess, all in a rush to be scooped up and twirled around.

Week after week, at the village park, Goblin and Princess scream delightedly as he propels them into orbit in the basket-swing.  He has a bad back, so it’s a relief when they join their mates racing this way and that, like starlings.  It’s now that Geezer and Granny Red enjoy a good chat.

Back in the sixties they danced in the same clubs, maybe even danced together, who knows?  They share a passion for local history and a passion for books.  And when the winter comes, bringing snow, bringing fieldfares into gardens, they discover a common interest in birds.  Often they have a laugh – oh yes, they have their private jokes!

The seasons have changed and changed again since their last time together.  Princess is at a new school now; Goblin has other good friends.  Occasionally he’ll glimpse red and spin…his almost foolish grin dying slowly.  A rook calls over the park as shadows gather and one by one the mums depart in a skirl of buggy wheels.  ‘Seeya, seeya… Seeya later, Tom.’

Geezer and Goblin will stop until dusk.  They’re having the time of their lives.

–oOo—

Copyright © Paul Beech 2011

(Previously published on the author’s blog, Grandy’s Landing.)

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