Halloween!!

Hello, Poetry Lovers. So, Halloween is looming, eh?

I’ve taken the liberty of penning two poems about this certain night. The first is in the style of Pam Ayres, and the second is – er – in my style really…. Well, read on…..

h alloween, you’re such a bore!

Trick or Treater’s at my door

Out with fun-size sweets I go

Recently purchased from big Tesco

A kid with a cape and witches’ hat

Says that my offering’s not all that

Now listen here, you ungrateful snitch

All I did on Halloween was draw a witch!

I‘d have loved to have been a trick or treater

But the only thing on Halloween was Blue Peter!

And I never got a badge, I sigh

The kids bid a nervous goodbye!

They all leg it into the night,

My fun-sized treats gone from sight.

(Luckily they were on special offer!)

October 1968

Coal black night where witches fly

“Can I come with you, aye bye and bye”

Grey skies on a school afternoon

they say witches fly right to the moon

But what IS Halloween?!

Conkers lay dead on the ground

come now, you’re home safe and sound

shall I draw you a nice pumpkin pie?

Americans don’t eat them, that’s pie in the sky!

But what IS Halloween?!

Teacher shouty and brash

school dinners with corned beef hash

Friday afternoon I’ll draw her a witch

but Mrs Ross’s a bad-tempered old bitch

But what IS Halloween?!

She’ll love her favourites Maxine and Pat’s

mine will get a glance and that’s

that. I’ll take it home, hope for the best

that Mum will take the slightest interest

But what IS Halloween?!

This question actually comes from my lips

Mum says shuttup and eat your chips!

no-one cares less about stupid Halloween

witches don’t exist, this is bloody obscene

It’s actually the eve of All Saints Day

now for chrissakes go and play!

But what IS Halloween?!

Wasn’t that a hoot?! Do submit any yourselves! What fun!

Thanks for tuning in, I’ll be back for more poetry antics – same time, same channel……

Bath Night…..

Hello, Poetry Lovers. Today we feature a stunning and nostalgic poem from the lovely and talented Trisha Broomfield.

Badedas on Bath Night will hold many memories of that one night of the week. Once again we’ll inhale that classy Badedas. Still the best really, but it’s the Coal Tar soap that really brings back the bathroom for me. I still buy it when I can…… Anyway, read on….

Badedas on Bath Night

Cuticura talc and coal tar soap,

Badedas on bath night

a trail of foot prints across the hall,

water soaking sisal,

transistor radio balanced on discarded clothes,

tights wrapped round water pipes,

hair dried by two bar fire,

eyebrows plucked to threads

in time for bed, quilted dressing gowns,

plastic rollers stabbing into scalps,

Ashes of Roses, candlewick, radio Caroline

posters peeled from papered walls,

Cupid’s Inspiration, the first LP I’d ever own

and through the painted window frames

the dream of romance never to be known.

Trisha Broomfield 2020

Wasn’t that just wonderful? Which of that lovely piece brought the sharpest memory? Definitely for me was the drying of hair over that two bar fire, it’s a wonder how many of us are still alive! Health & Safety would not like that!! And those candlewick bedspreads – I think I had a green one. Fabulous, Trisha, bless you for that.

I’ve tagged a glamorous picture of Trisha at the end there – I think the middle one resembles me!! I can’t believe how I’d sleep in those things.

Thank you for tuning in, PL’s. More poetry antics and japes soon……..

Pink Slippers

Hello Poetry Lovers.

Today, I’d like to feature a poem by the lovely poet, Barbara Lee. Someone who I’ve come to know well during these last months. Not only are we fellow poets with a mutual respect, we are also cat lovers! So a full ten out of ten there!

Barbara has written a lovely piece called Pink Slippers, which is so full of relevance and great imagery.

This is a picture of Barbara Lee who looks just as glamorous outside the picture. Anyway read on for this charming piece

Pink Slippers

Today I bought some pink slippers

For the winter months here

I never prepared that I would be spending it so near

I always plan a trip away

Last year it was San Francisco on my way

But this year I won’t be venturing very far

Or going out late in my car

I will be snuggling up on my settee

With a nice cup of tea

Watching a film or reading a book

The cats giving me such a look

Which says we are all here on our own

My pink slippers and me at home.

B Lee 2020

Wasn’t that wonderful, PL’s?! Great stuff, Barbara, keep them coming.

Here’s a nice Slipper gallery for you all.

Thank you for tuning in, Poetry Lovers. We’ll be back with more poetry antics real soon. Same time, same channel….

Memory Corner

Hello, Poetry Lovers, the Reliant has taken us back to our beloved Memory Corner. This time to the winter month of December 2019. The 2nd, in fact.

This was a wonderful night at the Troubadour Cafe. Thanks to the lovely Anne-Marie Fyfe, a strong, talented poet, and inspiring teacher, the very cream of poets gathered in the Troubadour basement on the Old Brompton Road.

All of us blissfully unaware of the emptiness that was to follow in 2020. Well, this is a very familiar tune now…..

This is one of my hearthrobs, Barney Ashton-Bullock, who read stunningly that night. Joined by many other of my pashes…Angus Strachan, Michael Dench, Mark Chamberlain, Ian McLachlan, Matthew Paul, Fran O’Leary, Lady Po and so many other wonderful poets.

Another poet I want to mention is the lovely Greg Freeman. I was so glad to see him that night. A very clever man and poet. It was that kind of magical evening.

And inevitably, here’s my own performance, I read Colours of ’73, a memory of living through Heath and the blackouts. Funny, the memory flashed up as I was in Tesco! Buying toilet rolls, I think. Little did I know that they would become a precious commodity!

Lord knows what I’m doing in that first image, but I’m gripping that microphone like Billy-O!!

So, thank you Anne-Marie and Troubadour and all my lovely poetry pals for making that such a remarkable evening.

Thank you once again for tuning in, PL’s. We’ll be back with more poetry antics very shortly – same time, same channel…..

Interview!!

Yes, Poetry Lovers! We’ve got the fascinating and enigmatic poet, Michael Cutchey on the show today!

(pandemonium)

Now settle down, PL’s. I know you’ve been queuing all day but we don’t want to frighten our guest, do we?! Because here he is….Michael Cutchey!

(our guest sweeps down the lighted stairs accompanied by disco music, almost drowning out the rapturous applause)

Michael, thank you so much for coming on the show

(Loud standing ovation. Security are nervous)

Pleasure, Heather. What a gas!

And may I say how much I love the white suit, Michael, especially with the black shirt! (cheers from the audience – So Cool! etc)

Many thanks. I’m off down the discotheque later so…..

(our guest looks around nervously)

Er… is Dobby here? I don’t want to get her fur on my suit! Also she bit me last time…….

She’s head of security now, my sweet. Dobby’s got her paws full!

Now, tell us everything about your acting and performing background

I’ve always been a bit of a performer. At school I struggled with dyspraxia and learning how to even hold a pencil, so I relished the chance do anything practical.

I’m very lucky to have had some amazing acting tutors throughout my education. After school, I studied performing arts at college, and found it a deeply enlightening experience. After that I joined some local am-dram groups who have become close friends and supporters, alongside my poetry family.

What a lovely way to put that, Michael. Yes, I think of us poets as a family.

So how did poetry become a part of your life?

Funnily enough, I wrote my first poem at six years old, and it was apparently so well received by my teachers that they laminated it and stuck it to the school library wall!

After that I had a bit of a haitus, until I was in my early 20’s. After that, I couldn’t stop! Over the last ten years I’ve managed to churn out nearly 700 poems, it’s become an integral part of my life, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

That is so impressive, Michael! 700!! I’ve got a lot of catching up to do!! You really are a prolific poet.

Who were your greatest influences?

Anyone who knows me knows I love Horror as a genre, but it might come as a surprise that the poet responsible for me discovering the art form was actually Sylvia Plath! She has such a powerful voice and paints imagery so vividly, it’s breathtaking! Other than Plath, I also enjoy a bit of Charles Bukowski, albeit no thanks to his controversial nature.

Stylistically though, my biggest influences are probably the two great titans of Horror, Howard Phillips, Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. The latter has some amazingly sombre and melancholic poems, such as The Raven, The Mourning Palace and A Dream Within a Dream to name a few.

On the other hand, H. P. Lovecraft was less prolific as a poet, than as a writer of lurid stories for pulp magazines at the turn of the 20th Century. Again he is a very controversial person, but his impact on the horror genre is undeniable.

I can see those influences in your work and performance. It works for you too.

Tell us about your project/plans…

Aside from the usual churning out of more poems, I have been picking away at a novel for a while now, although I’m still a little rusty when it comes to prose. It’s a horror story (obviously) about a man and a haunted house, set in the mid 1800’s.

I’m also hoping to arrange some anthologies of my poetry for potential submission to publishers.

(spontaneous round of applause)

Gosh, Michael. I want to read that right now! And I think you should get those poetry subissions in….

Now, you know what I’m going to ask – what is the best poetry gig you’ve done – and the worst?

I have to admit I consider myself very lucky in that I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad gig, at least not in my opinion. I always enjoy reading and try to go at it with gusto, and I think the audience appreciates that and enjoys it.

One standout gig for me was Halloween 2019, where I performed Lewis Carrol’s Jabberwocky in full Victorian garb for Write Out Loud Woking. Halloween is always my favourite time of year because it means you can dress outlandishly, and I like to think I look good in a top hat and a cravat.

We second that, don’t we, Poetry Lovers?!

(huge round of applause and out and out agreement)

Your stage presence and dress is stunning, Michael. You have such a style.

We have so enjoyed talking and listening to you. Now which discotheque are you off to tonight? The Write Out Loud one? Or..

.(Our guest suddenly looks very nervous)

Ah, I see Dobby’s returned…..

(our esteemed guest legs it)

Wah! Dobby! Not the white suit!!!

(tears up the stairs, Dobby at his heels)

(Loud loud applause, audience go mad)

(shouts up the stairs) Thank you so much for coming on the show, Michael!

Wasn’t he wonderful, PL’s?! I hope little Dobby isn’t too hard on him! I dread to think of the cleaning bills for that wonderful suit!

Thank you for tuning in, Poetry Lovers, we’ll be back soon with some more poetry antics. Stay tuned……

Happy Families

Hello PL’s!

I thought by now I’d be posting about poetry gigs and all sorts of live events. Well, as we all know, that cannot be the case.

Hands up who thought this Lockdown would all be over by now! I know I certainly did!

So that can mean only one thing! Looking in the Poetry Cupboard!

And look what I found – aren’t they lovely? Now, when playing this game, who didn’t hanker for the glamorous wife, the suave husband or the perfect children in their hand? Only to get some Bore family?! Happy Families could be so loaded with undercurrents of frustration…..

So, I’ve penned a poem about that notorious childhood card game Happy Families.

Happy Families

I always wanted Mrs Daub, the artist’s wife

But I only ever ended up with Mrs Chop,

the unprepossessing Butcher’s spouse,

her rotound red face would glare at me

But Mrs Daub looked at me gently,

a blush appearing on her delicate cheeks,

her ponytail so flawless, her classic

beauty passed onto her perfect children

To complete the picture, Mr Daub

was extremely handsome,

his artist’s smock immaculate,

a black beret pert on his head.

Mr Chop, Mr Chip and Mr Wood

were exceptionally grim.

This was my card game! Why

couldn’t we be like the Daub’s?!

My older cousin snorts – she implies

Mrs Daub has red cheeks from

going round the back of the

timberyard with Mr Chip!

And that the Daub children

were going to Borstal.

And Mr Daub secretly drank!

If you look at them closely, she says,

they’re all bloody miserable.

There’s no such thing as a

perfect family, she sneers.

When was she going home?!

Of course, the miserable cow was right, perfect families only exist in TV shows. However, my cousin would have put a damper on things anyway. A Christmas spent with an older, worldier, miserable cousin can last an awful long time! Especially when they violate my favourite game!

Thanks for tuning in, Poetry Lovers. We’ll be back shortly for more poetry antics……. Same time, same channel

Silver Platform Boots

What a title eh? Yes, Poetry Lovers, it conjures up all sorts of memories and images for us!

Our lovely and clever poet, Trisha Broomfield has penned us this wonderful poem with the alluring title above.

I remember girls like this at parties, walking in like they owned the place. I also tried not to stare. Well, read on….

Silver Platform Boots

She walks in silver

platform boots

right for cash

left for stash,

she doles out dope

and other illegal substances

with equanimity

and a keen eye for business.

She doesn’t carry a handbag

or wash her hair,

wears an Afghan coat

which stands in the

corner stiffly

sulking, when she takes it off

she smells of goats.

Her name’s Fenella

nickname Fence,

a little side line,

to access her cash

she hauls up her voluminous

Indian print skirts,

unzips a boot

peels off damp notes

from beneath colourful

holey socks,

as the girls with purses

try not to stare.

Wasn’t that amazing, PL’s? Sad, but with a seedy glamour. I remember the sort of parties she would go to where everyone just turned up.

I was more inclined to sit next to the numerous Yes albums scattered in the living room. It made it look like I actually liked them – sadly, no-one was impressed.

Tune in same time, same channel for more poetry power ……

Interview!!

Hello and welcome to another interview, Poetry Lovers! And tonight, we have the wonderful and clever poet, Math Jones! (pandemonium) (Security stir uneasily)

Now, settle down PL’s! I know you’ve been queuing all night, but all the same……..

(Host bangs a ruler on the desk. There is silence)

Now what did I say, PL’s?! Settle down! Let’s welcome our lovely and talented guest Math Jones

(standing ovation. Cries of Math! Math!)

(our guest walks on elegantly)

Hello, good to be here

(looks round nervously)

Is – er Dobby here?

Think she’s helping out with security, my sweet. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

May I say, I love your platform boots, they go super with those colourful patchwork trousers.

Thank you, Heather. Do you think the cravat’s a bit much?

We think it makes you look the coolest guy on the poetry circuit, don’t we, PL’s?!

(wild hoots of ‘so cool’ ‘Yes, siree!’ etc)

I know that as well as a poet, you’re also an actor. Why don’t you fill us in on your background?

I started acting in primary school, even before I knew I was doing it. I was also painting, dancing, playing music and writing poetry. It just felt like things you did.

So that burst out when I dropped my A level studies in Maths and Physics to try for drama school. I didn’t get in but I took a range of part time classes in acting, mime and physical theatre, mostly at the City Lit. Perhaps that enabled the process of letting the inner world find a means of expression.

Because it’s more than the technical skills of breathing, voice projection, coping with being on stage, understanding text, inviting the audience’s trust and investment – all being vitally important. There’s also the bringing of secrets and insights, and touches of my own humanity to the meeting.

There’s a thought, a feeling, a sharing of something, that needs to be seen. Being on stage is a kind of permission to speak. It’s an invitation, and I find I often need an invitation.

But for a long time, I stepped away from acting. I was working in bookshops, we had a son to raise, and I’d another son from my first marriage. To a degree, I kept myself going by writing, but hardly knew I was doing it!

That’s so insightful and frank, Math. Fascinating.

(audience murmer agreement)

So when did poetry become significant in your life? And tell us about Paganism which is a strong part of you.

I stepped into a form of Paganism,and I did know I was doing it. Christian by default, I’d known for a time it did not express my own spiritual feeling. Connecting to older gods, and godesses, of the land and natural world, of the seasons, I found a world I could fit in without leaving anything outside. It’s a world in which we belong, as natural things, for as long as we’re around.

Part of that is performing ritual, rites of passage between seasons, between states of being. It involves communion with ghosts and other-worldly beings, and other people.

That brought me back to writing, specifically religious verse, and brought me back in front of a crowd.

So when in later years, I did return to acting, then writing and performing other forms of poetry, it felt kind of easy in comparison. Or rather, I’d acquired skills and strengths that helped.

And then I realised that writing, poetry, theatre etc. had been core to my life, even when I wasn’t aware I was doing it. Because my failing in ‘real life’ was made bearable by creating stuff.

There’s a kind of musculature we develop to cope, that makes the space for softer stuff to inhabit. The art mediums all have their disciplines, and a poem has its form. An experienced performer can stand in the eye of the audience-storm and let something happen.

So, my experience in acting and performance is important to me, because a writer is not a performer. They’re different jobs. The writer’s a listener, recording and shaping the words, but they don’t stand in front of the audience.

Then again, there can too much performer on stage. The performance can get in the way of that same thought coming through. Sometimes, the performer and writer have to get out of the way.

Wasn’t that beautifully put, PL’s?! You unravelled so much for us there.

(standing ovation)

That was so succinct, Math, thank you.

So, who were your greatest influences?

Um, it’s hard to name influences. I don’t feel concrete enough. There are people I feel safe with like Yeats, McKay Brown, because I feel held by then, their other-worldliness, I trust them. There are poets I know personally who I likewise surrender to. But there’s also a lot I make allowances for (forgive me), or even reject, because I don’t travel with them on their necessary journeys.

I’ve learnt from seeing others do wrong (for me anyway), but I love and long for when someone takes my breath, leaves me wanting to stop and never need to write again.

There’s something about language that fails us, something in our veneration of our own thought, as if thought should always be a leader, or witness. So perhaps that’s the draw of poetry to me – reality shaping words shaping reality. I’ve often said I write to put clothes onto naked feeling, something like that.

But then I get to the physical results, the actual poems left on the page, seem more vulnerable to criticism than when they’re spoken on stage with a twinkly smile!

It’s strange they seem so small on the page, inadequate, and we reject them, but maybe come back to them later thinking they’re not so bad. So you entrust them to the world, putting breath into them helps, reading them aloud.

Gosh, Math, you’ve taken our breath away. What a wonderful and profound answer. You are so strong and commited to your art. Justified too.

(spontaneous round of applause by an awed audience)

Now, you’ve had two very vital and stunning collections published – Sabrina Bridge and The Knotsman. Tell us about these, and is there a third on the horizon?

There’s a strange feeling of failure, as if I should have had a dozen books published by now – I’ve written enough – but that may be the I’m the greatest/I’m the worst battle, going on endlessly.

I love the two books, and am very proud of them. I find myself downplaying them though, almost forgetting they’re there. It’s embarassing I’m like that.

Sabrina Bridge is a loose collection of poems I wrote when in Worcester, published by Black Bear Press. It was there, amongst the Worcester Poets that so much of what I do now was cultivated and nutured. It has a theme for me, though the mixture of verses, personal, mythological, narrative, dramatic, might seem a jumble to others, I can’t tell.

The Knotsman is similarly a jumble, but a much more cohesive one, and holds a great deal of me in in a fabled form. The way our threads of meaning can be bound into a jangled knot or a gentle weave; the ways we are pulled by bindings that might have no meaning or value to us; it’s a lot about freedom and personal integrity, but set in a world of civil-war, plague, rationality and superstition, and the best magic of kindness and compassion.

It’s a terrible curse not being able to shout out about your work (not really, we shouldn’t need to shout about these things), but that said, I do want to get these other poems into the world somehow – a book is an extra layer of safety perhaps.

So there are a number of possible collections already being worked on – themes emerging, poems that heighten or echo other poems. “Bear” has been repeatedly shown up to say things about how big we are, how hairy, how much we roar, and to speak of the bear godess. The Fair Folk show up with tales of the shining land. The poems written to godesses, and gods, which speak of divinity as well as challenge – some were collected to a CD, but there’s enough for another collection too.

And then, there’s all the ones that fall in between, personal poems, love poems, other fables. Just as the writer’s not a performer, a writer’s not a business manager either. Frustrating, that.

Math, just talking to you here, I can see how much more you have to give us. I know what you mean, there should be many collections by now, and from listening to you here, I think these will come….

(overwhelming applause)

I remember seeing you at Boomerang Poetry in 2018. You blew us all away! What was the best poetry gig you’ve done, and the worst?

I do love the performing. There’s a communion about it, a breathing together, a physical interaction of sound and silence. There’s a trust bestowed by the audience that is deeply precious, like a warm bath they’ve offered you to play in. Alongside that is the invitation to be more human. I’ve spent so much time in solitude and silence, and when you look out on the world, it can be hard to see the vulnerable truths of our inner being be acknowledged at all. So perhaps the most enjoyable performances are those with humanity held gently between us.

I’ve loved reading one-to-one in the intimacy of the Poetry Brothel, and spreading an hour-long arc fo poems at Four Sundays in Feb. I’ve been amazed and moved by the reception at regular events, like Boomerang in London, or 42 in Worcester. And over the lockdown, live-streaming over Facebook. I’ve loved doing that.

But then, on a zoom call, my wifi was faulty and my reading was interrupted and illegible, as if I was never there; and sometimes, being last of a night, with most of the audience gone, or the first on, with the audience unsettled, these can be disheartening.

My own hearing issues, or emotional issues, can also leave me feeling disconnected with what I’ve done. My fuzzy memory makes it hard to be more specific.

Well Math, I have watched your live-streaming on Facebook, and it’s very slick. You are a true artist.

Math, what can I say? We could listen to you all day…

(stirs of agreement, emotional applause)

Certainly I want to thank you, Heather, for your continual support and enthusiasm, but also for the warmth and generosity you bring to your own words and pictures, and the beautiful nuturing spirit you share so naturally.

(blush) What can I say, Math? Thank you so much, I’ll treasure those words and consider that praise indeed.

Wasn’t that insightful and so candid, Poetry Lovers’?

(Emotional applause – threatens to get out of hand )

Now what are you doing tonight? I believe the Poetry Cafe has a disco…..

(Math looks nervous and distracted)

Oh! Dobby’s back!

(Math quickly legs it, Dobby chases him up the lighted stairs)

Oooh, go easy with those platforms, Math!!! Thank you so much for coming on the show!!!

Now, wasn’t that just splendid! Great interview. I hope Dobby’s not too hard on him!

Math’s collections –

Sabrina Bridge is available on http://blackpear.net,

and The Knotsman from http://arachnepress.com.

Give yourselves a treat. Wonderful poems.

Tune in for more poetry fun, same time, same channel…..

Memory Corner!

Hello PL’s, welcome back to our popular feature.

Here I am just walking into the Memory Corner now, after going to Pricerite. Bloody Delorean’s got a puncture so I had to bus it here!

I was so delighted to find these photos from 3rd December 2018.

I was honoured to be invited to be featured poet at Donall and Janice’s wonderful 1000 Monkeys in Guildford. Set in a beautiful pub called the Keep.

How I remember the lovely Christmas feel and the vibrant atmosphere there. Especially after two Gin and Tonics! My, they serve big ones in there! So I admit I was nervous but once I got behind that stand, the World was mine!

I don’t know what it is, but everytime I’m photographed reading poetry, there seems to be no audience at all! I swear there were people present – honestly!

I used my Beano notebook because ‘Bunty I Miss You’ had yet to get off the press. In a way, that made it more exciting, the anticipation of being published. So I worked that Beano notebook very hard.

Thank you Donall and Janice for giving me such wonderful memories and taking a chance on me. The audience seemed pleased so hopefully I delivered.

Let’s pray those days will come back soooon…..

Tune in again for another interview!! Book your tickets now!! Same time, same channel ….

The Second Stain

Greetings, Poetry Lovers! Intriguing title eh? Certainly got me looking!

This is the title of another beauty, penned by the lovely and talented Trisha Broomfield. Bringing back the memory that we’ve all been to school with someone like this, a classmate who outgrows us very quickly……

Read on

The Second Stain

She’d missed double maths,

no surprise, we thought she’d be skiving

off somewhere,

during needlework, she reappeared

brittle blonde newly backcombed

frosted fudge lipstick overdone

a languid look in her smoky eyes

a glint of knowing, a hint of,

don’t dare ask,

suddenly she was older than us

her clothes, pulled on in haste

bunched odd buttons together

but it wasn’t that

nor the fact that someone had seen her

lying flat in the graveyard grass

a biker beside her

it was the stain the shape of a

continent

on the front of her white blouse

with a matching one,

a second stain

dark like Coca Cola

on the back

Trisha Broomfield

I’ve tagged a nice glamorous one of Trisha on the end here as a Thank You. Wasn’t that a joy? Keep them coming, Trisha.

Thanks for looking in, PL’s. Don’t touch that dial because we have an interview with the enigmatic and amazing Math Jones coming up…..so get queuing! Same time, same channel….

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