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Daily Haiku: July 23, 2019

Hi Everyone, 

I’m delighted to report that Charlotte Digregorio is today featuring another poem of mine on her wonderful Daily Haiku blog. 

Do please check it out: 

https://charlottedigregorio.wordpress.com/2019/07/22/daily-haiku-july-23-9/#comments 

Cheers, 

Paul

 

 

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My senryu featured…

Gosh, what a great start to the weekend for me! 

Charlotte Digregorio is today featuring a senryu of mine on her wonderful Daily Haiku blog. 

Check it out here: 

https://charlottedigregorio.wordpress.com/2019/07/19/daily-haiku-july-20-2019/

 

Clandestines

I rose early this morning to the glory of the sun blazing down over the estuary below and thought how lucky we are, my partner Maureen and I, to be living now in such a wonderful spot as this, on the side of Halkyn Mountain in North-East Wales.

Then I flipped open a book. It was my collection of poetry and prose Grandy’s Landing, published by Cestrian Press in August 2016.  And I found myself reading a flash fiction story that gave me quite a pang.  Written in February 2016, it was on the theme of refugees from abroad.

The plight of refugees is a cause Maureen and I care deeply about and have supported in various ways, such as putting on a poetry-and-music evening in Chester last year to raise funds for SHARE (see my posts of 13th and 23rd May 2018).  Most recently we’ve had poems exhibited along with work by others in the Refugee display at Ellesmere Library organised by our lovely poet friend Jan Hedger.

Here’s the story from my book…

 

CLANDESTINES

Paul Beech

We came ashore stinking of fish from our nightmare crossing in the traffickers’ trawler, those of us who survived, that is. A woman drowned and a small boy died in the bows.

How the others fared, those poor souls from the ruins of our war-torn land, God knows. I made it to the forest and slept two nights in a rockwall crevice, frozen and starved, before they came for me with chopper and dogs.

Miraculously, a learned man no more but a hunted animal with primitive instincts, I gave them the slip, blatting rotor-blades and canine yelps fading as I waded through mud, scrambled through thickets of thorn, vaulted fences and walls, then jumped a train. Now here I am in the town where my sister, a “clandestine” too, lives with seedy friends who demand favours to keep her safe.

They live in an upstairs flat near the estuary, that’s all I know. But find her I must.  I’m all she’s got.  And in her last call before we lost contact she sounded afraid, terribly afraid.

***

A week later, rotor-blades again. Choppers, two of them, like giant dragonflies over the moonlit estuary and town, one with a peevish whine, the other a thudding drone, as they hover, move on, hover, move on, around and around, searching with thermal imaging cameras, searching for me…

With a half-eaten burger from a bin, I’m back in my hiding place above a ventilation duct in an underground car park, empty at this hour except for an old jalopy with flat tyres. Night after night I’ve lain here, in this pre-cast concrete tomb, shuddering in my stolen coat, munching bin-pickings, worrying about my little sister.

Not one glimpse of her in all my riverside wanderings, her phone dead, maybe smashed by the thugs she’s living with. Her sweet face haunts me.  Her poor, stricken, dust-covered face when I saw her last, months ago, following the missile strike that destroyed her home.  I’m all she’s got, her only hope.  But they’re closing in on me now.  Sirens, flashing blue lights.  The police, Immigration Enforcement, they’re closing in.

***

They charge up the ramp as I exit near the Market Hall and plunge into the maze of alleyways leading down to the quay. A swarthy, brutish, leering face at an upstairs window as I round a corner.  A woman lies battered, bloodied and broken on the cobbles.  She is conscious, but only just.  I have found my sister.

Kneeling at her side, I’m cocooned in a beam of intensely bright light from a hovering chopper, the peevish one.

“Stand back from that woman,” commands an amplified voice from above.

I kiss her brow. She is trying to say something.

“Stand back from that woman – now!”

A hoarse whisper: “You came…”

“I’m here,” I say. “Right here, Little Sis, right here…”

Rough hands seize me from behind. But there is a moment’s worth of mercy at least.  Her eyes glaze and Little Sis departs this sorry world for a higher realm where all are welcome, a realm without clandestines.

Unresisting, I am pulled to my feet and marched to a waiting van.

~~~~~~~~

Copyright © Paul Beech 2016, 2019

 

 

Message in a Bottle

From our high perch on the side of Halkyn Mountain, I see the risen sun burning through cloud over the silver-gleaming Dee Estuary below. Beyond, a thin mist hangs over the Wirral peninsula and Liverpool Bay but hopefully it’ll clear later to reveal those stunning panoramic views we love so much.  There’s hardly a soul about yet in this tiny Welsh village we now call home, but it’s always quiet here.  The day promises to be hot.

Yes, after many frustrating delays in our lovely new home being made ready for us, here we are at last, my partner Maureen and I. We’ve tons to do to get straight, but win through we surely will!

On the theme of moving house, here’s a haibun of mine published in Failed Haiku: A Journal of English Senryu, volume 4, Issue 41, 1st May 2019.  The story it tells is perfectly true.  Hope you like it.

 

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE

 

Aye, just fifteen, I was, when we moved from the Lancashire cotton and colliery town of my birth. And the last thing I did was bury a message in a bottle under my dad’s shed.

Back now after fifty years and more, I find our old house much the same-looking, but in a changed world. Neat bungalows where the chapel and school hut stood, and cornfields stretched to the pond where me and my bro caught sticklebacks between lily pads and iris.  A clear view over the Pennines too, instead of those factory chimneys puffing plumes of every mucky shade…

Aye, our old house much the same-looking, but Dad’s shed gone.

Was my message in the bottle ever found and read? My old secrets gloated over?  There was a bookie’s daughter.  Doe-eyed, softly spoken.  A time in the tent, Dad’s well-oiled lawn mower pushing closer every moment…

nettle beer

our lad-o’-rhyme

returns a lassie’s wink

 

Paul Beech

Copyright © Paul Beech 2019

Waving

Gosh, what a glorious spring morning! Birdsong on the sweet-scented breeze…

Yesterday we had something resembling a snowstorm. It wasn’t really snow of course; hardly with the temperature up around 22°C.  It was a shower of white cherry blossom, and a true delight.  We love the flowering cherry tree opposite our front window with its white blossom one side and fat pink blossom the other.

Soon though, Maureen and I will be waving goodbye to Connah’s Quay. Yes, we’re on the move again, deeper into Wales, to a quiet hillside spot closer to the coast, with fabulous views.  We’re just waiting for our new place to be made ready for us, but with all the sorting and packing, and a spell offline during removals, this will be my last post for a while.  But I shall be back!

Below is a true story of mine that first appeared as a comment on Bruce Goodman’s wonderful blog Weave a Web on 11th July 2017.  It was my response to his story ‘Woman in the Park’.

Have a happy and peaceful Easter, everyone.

 

WAVING

I remember a certain lady from my days as a rookie housing officer in the mid-70s. A sweet old lady she was, but very lonely and becoming a tad confused.  She had a problem at her bungalow; would I please call round and take a look?

I gave her a knock that very afternoon and she sat me down on the sofa with tea and biscuits. She was obviously house-proud; décor immaculate, framed photographs and potted plants here and there.

As I nibbled and sipped, she explained that she was being driven to distraction by people passing on their narrowboats, with their accordion music and whatnot.

I was puzzled because the nearest canal was miles away. Oh yes, she insisted, day and night, so thoughtless of them, disturbing her like that.  Couldn’t I do something about it?

I was on my second cup, my third jammy-dodger, when she suddenly sat forward. “There they are!  There they are!”  She was pointing at her shag-pile carpet, tracing an invisible line down the centre of the room.  “See, they’re waving!  Waving!  Now please, Mr Beech, what are you going to do about it?”

Paul Beech

Copyright © Paul Beech 2017, 2019

 

 

 

My haiku featured…

Dear All, 

Further to my last post, ‘My first ever Literary Award’ (16/03/19), I’m delighted to tell you that my “wisps from a steam iron” haiku has today (28/03/19) been featured on Charlotte Digregorio’s wonderful Daily Haiku blog: 

https://charlottedigregorio.wordpress.com/2019/03/27/daily-haiku-march-28-2019/

Enjoy the spring sunshine. 

My very best, 

Paul

Copyright © Paul Beech 2019

 

My first ever Literary Award

Yes, I’ve had a bit of good news, thrilling news! And now it’s out in the public domain, published in the February issue, 29.1, of Blithe Spirit, Journal of the British Haiku Society, I’m delighted to share it with you, as I’ve been itching to do.

It was one dark Wednesday evening in January, returning from Port Sunlight with Maureen, that I found a stiff flat package addressed to me amongst the post waiting for us behind the front door. Opening it, I found a lovely laminated certificate with a crow’s head motif in the middle.  And never was I more surprised in my life than to find I’d won The Museum of Haiku Literature Award for ‘Best of Issue – Blithe Spirit 28.4 – November 2018’.

It was my first ever literary award, and I’d been selected for it by the previous issue’s winner, Debbie Strange.

Here’s my winning haiku:

 

wisps from a steam iron

coil through time

my young mum sings

 

Paul Beech

I’ve now selected the winner and six runners-up from issue 29.1 to be published in the May issue, 29.2. And put my winnings towards my ticket for Martin Edwards’ ‘Alibis in the Archive’ crime writing weekend event at Gladstone’s Library in June!

 

Copyright © Paul Beech 2019