We will remember them

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I cut my finger this morning
watched the drops red, red drip
I imagined the small scarlet mounds
of parachutes reddening on Flanders Fields

on many shirt fronts and coat lapels
these poppies bloom today
the crowds gawp at the screaming sky
as fireworks follow the sun going down

slowly the hordes full of candy floss
patiently surge across the acrid ground
as many, so many we have never met
nor will we remember them

morning sees the park strewn
with mangled detritus, flattened chips
time still ticks on as we grow old
we forget or never knew the brave

Sue Banister

Silence

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Photo at Pixabay

Stillness, silence, listening
hearing what?
Bells in valleys, warm sun.
Light on mountain peaks, on snow.
The evening light pale crimson
heather, rock, water,
large trout swimming in pools.
Scent of pines after rain.
Listening to silence
Howgills, their summits,
peace, a quietness not heard elsewhere.
Silence and peace
listening to that small voice
God, man, earth,
past, present, future.
Listen to peace, to peace, to peace.

David Marshall

Good counsel on this snowy – and in some other ways momentous – morning.

– M&P

Peace

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Photo at Pixabay

Peace

Alone I float upon a tideless ocean
There is no wind, no sound, nor any motion
Blissful in Summer haze I laze without emotion
Alone upon a tideless ocean
Sedated, satisfied, replete a Sleeping Beauty
Who has no cares, no conscience, and no moral duty
There is no winter here, no heat nor cold
No seasons change so none like me grow old
All is a perpetual Youth in a sunlit noon of gold
No time will pass and so no years will roll
Here I can smell the scented shores around
See hills where vaporous water falls without a sound
Furtive it glides among the leafy trees
Idling through sunny glades to soak the thirsty ground
Where Summer flowers fruit without disease
Where no lilies fester and the rose no petals leave
And in the gossamer grass the poppy nods at ease
It’s here I’ll dream within a hidden hollow
At peace and healed of every searing sorrow
The past does not exist. I fear no morrow
Hope I know not, so no despair can follow.

Peace? No, this is Hell I dream
My passions still burn fiercely my desire screams
Give me the storms, the battles, life’s extremes
Labour, suffering, pain. Yes let me weep
But save me O thou Unfathomable God
From a life of fantasy, of sleep.

Vi Taylor

please see also Remembering

Winter’s Dog Days

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Photo at Pixabay

last month in winter’s dog days
when light was a miracle we blessed
buried somewhere deep in our hearts
we knew that skies would brighten
and rain no more pour down
that spring would come full blast
with clear skies and the power to shock
the sun will warm us with force
piercing the cold wet of the earth
stirring the unseen seeds of hope
into life with its full blown glory
dazzling our minds with the beauty
only nature can bring to fruition

Jill Faux

we knew … / that spring would come full blast

Now there’s a cheering thought on a chilly November night with talk of snow in the air!

– M&P

Today we have flowers

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Today we have flowers

Suck down the nectar
Let the sweetness register, hold it to your lips
Like a dying man in the desert,
Press a petal against your skin,
Marvel at the silk soft summer strength of it.
The pollen will stain your hands and make you sneeze,
But that is what it does – it has a job to do.
Remove the black shrivelled scorched pod firmly.
It is full of tiny seeds – like eggs waiting to be born,
Remove them, roughly.
They are the threat.
They must replace the snaking stem
Clinging to the sun-blushed wall
and the swaying pastel colours of the flowers.
They are next year’s news.

Lorraine Mackay

YouTube inspires

The sharing of resources is part of our regular conversation at Mungrisdale Writers. Some of us spoke recently of the huge inspirational value we find in YouTube videos. Poets of every kind can be heard reciting or discussing their work – and our own Angela Locke is among these. So, type ‘Carol Ann Duffy’ or ‘Donald Hall’ or Ted Hughes, or ‘Angela Locke’ into YouTube’s search box and you’ll wile away a couple of happy hours before you know it. And then you could have a coffee and p-p-pick-up-a-pen …

– M&P

Meeting 10/Nov

Mungrisdale Writers will be meeting on Thursday 10th November 2016 from 10.30am-1.30pm. Our tutor Angela Locke proposes

Homework is to look at Carol Ann Duffy’s poem ‘Prayer’  and try to create a piece of prose or poetry inspired by it, preferably in the 1st person!

Closing my eyes now, I can hear the shipping forecast …

Incidentally, YouTube is a fabulous resource for writers – where any number of prose authors and poets can be heard discussing / reciting their work.

Hope to see you there.

– M&P

Farewell to Summer

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The falls that carry the rains from the fell
To the lake in the valley below
Can be heard crashing down in the distance
Beneath the palest of pale rainbows.
For centuries the waters have worn away
At the slate-smooth side of the fell
And now from a polished rock flute they have formed
Spout like a flared white peacock’s tail.
It is not even yet November
And bright berries the holly adorn,
But without the sound of crashing falls
There’d be nothing to welcome the morn.
The songbirds now are silent
From them no dawn chorus rings
For temperatures falling with incessant rain
Have dampened their spirits to sing.
Whilst on Loweswater’s swollen feeder streams
Leafy flotillas go sailing by,
Leaves of oak and ash and chestnut
Cascading from on high.
And alongside the falls side by side are stood
Golden fans of bracken
And bright green ferns of the wood.
The bright evergreen of ferns unchanging
Whilst brackens change from gold to brown
And will finally submit to winter
Who’s sharp frosts will lay them down.
Winged seeds of the sycamore too spiral down
From branches that sway in the breeze,
And red paint declares the sentence of death
On diseased and unsafe trees.
Plastic mesh across footpaths
And signs to say, ‘This way is closed’
For torrential rains and gale force winds
On the woods have taken their toll.
Some of the older and taller trees
Have been toppled by the gales
And after seasoning and sawing
Will become gates and fencing rails.
Nothing here is left to waste,
All will be gathered in,
Brambles for jam, elderberries for wine,
Sloes to colour and flavour gin.
For after all, when gifts are free,
To waste would be a sin.

Colin Armstrong

Sun chased

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When I drove west, gladly
anticipating another
invigorating morning’s
contemplating, dreaming,
listening, and writing,
the sun chased a cloud
across the face of
gargantuan Blencathra –
quietly present and glorious

And it dawned on me that
that life-giving source
and chase would do precisely
the same in a little
community gathered around
creativity’s table,
equally gargantuan –
quietly present and glorious

Simon Marsh

Stardust

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Photo at Pixabay

Stardust

The iron clouds shake out
their dust of stars, a galaxy
to feather-fall and form
in powder-patterns on the earth.

Slowly they pile in sleep-soft
pillows on the stones, rounding
the rocks, smoothing the
scars. Lazily they lie on
ledges and along the limbs
of trees; in the settling
silence as colour is covered.

The wind sweeps over the
whiteness, snaking the surface
in ripples and ribbons. Shifting
the spaces to reshape the
ridges. Sifting and circling the
spindrift – high…
to cover the sky.

The silver night crystals the
cloaks of the moon-glazed
mountains; shines in the
glass-cold hollow of a frozen
footprint, in the stillness
in the timeless indigo
under the gazeless glitter of the stars.

Sylvia Stevens

Mirehouse Poetry Prize 2014

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Screenshot from Mirehouse

At Words by the Water Mirehouse Poetry Competition 2014, our resident tutor Angela Locke received a Highly Commended for her poem

Sanctuary of Aphrodite

Almost closing time, the fag-end of a winter’s day.
‘The Goddess has left, but her Sanctuary’s still here!’
The young curator smiles. There’s an imprint on his chin,
discus-shaped, as though at birth a god
had placed a thumb to mark him.
Copper pots, stone heads, a great clay urn,
stone baths for ritual washing.
Naked virgins parade unbidden in my head.
We got lost getting here, had a row.
I told him I was leaving. Now, sulking
in the village square, he reads his maps.
The curator’s black 4×4 goes past.
He waves. ‘Don’t worry. I won’t lock you in!’
I’m alone. Fallen olives lie on stony ground;
Sparrows rustle among dead leaves.
How lonely to be abandoned by your worshippers;
A beautiful goddess one minute, then cast aside
for the next best thing.
Among these fallen columns,
olive trees in a ruined sanctuary,
there are shadows, sky bruised after a storm,
always the sea, undimmed.

Perhaps the Goddess still waits in the grove
for Love, libations from the two-headed cup,
sacrifices; great kings landing in their black ships,
bees to nectar, along the golden sea-path.
From me, sprigs of rosemary, picked this morning
in the amphitheatre of Kourion, laid on this flat stone,
are small gifts for what may be an altar, still.

Angela Locke

– M&P

Coronation Day

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Photo at Pixabay

Coronation Day 1953

Things were different then. The coal mine worked.
Doors were left unlocked. Strangers welcomed.
Though the eleven plus split up school friends,
The National Union of Mine Workers and the colliery’s village people
stood by each other. A cup of sugar easily asked for and given.

There’s not much I remember.
I know I was given a mug with the Queen on it
I think from school.
There was a house – or was it a shop –
decorated with red white and blue flags,
Queen and Duke of Edinburgh statues waved from the balcony.
They looked so real I think I might have curtsied.
A maypole of moving patterns,
the dancers shaped with coloured ribbons
to music squeezed from an accordion.

I have no recognition of where this happened
dad said was in the rec. with sports and games.
Colliery band played dance tunes on the bandstand.
Some street parties, trestles borrowed from the Miners Hall
crackets and forms brought out of homes,
best tablecloths spread with food.

That’s it, not a great lot to tell except –
the weather was grey.

Ann Miller