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Sunset Beach (Tanka)

Mist hazing the estuary below our Welsh mountain home, I remember again those boyhood holidays in Penmaenmawr back in the 50s… 

One happy memory from the period found its way into the following tanka of mine, published in Blithe Spirit, Volume 29, Number 3 (August 2019). 

Have a good Sunday, everyone.

 

TANKA 

 

sunset beach

father and son skim stones

over the golden tide

the song of the surf

their anthem 

 

Paul Beech 

Copyright © Paul Beech 2019

 

 

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Daily Haiku: August 27, 2019

Hi Everyone, 

Hope you enjoyed the Bank Holiday weekend, as I did. 

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

Please check it out here: 

https://charlottedigregorio.wordpress.com/2019/08/26/daily-haiku-aug-27-2019/

 Copyright © Paul Beech 2019

 

That’s All

My last post (‘Too Much Blue’, 29/07/19) was about a young expectant mum fleeing domestic violence. This Sunday morning, I’m continuing the domestic violence theme with a haibun published in Failed Haiku: A Journal of English Senryu, Volume 4, Issue 42 (June 2019), under Guest Editor Lori A. Minor.

‘That’s All’ tells the true story of my first encounter with a domestic violence victim in March 1970, an experience that, coupled with other things, would lead to my changing career, from technical drawing to social housing.

As a UK public sector housing manager, my role was generic but the work I always loved best was helping the homeless, especially the victims of domestic violence.

The work was challenging, gruelling, but uniquely satisfying when a woman fleeing violence, often with young children, could be provided with a new home, secure from any pursuing abuser, where she could get her life back on track.

 

THAT’S ALL

sixties gone

my Billy Fury quiff

remains

Midnight, silence, a half-moon riding the river.  I slow for the junction at the top of the hill.

As if from nowhere, a woman lurches into the road.  There’s something wrong with her.  Very wrong.  She’s barefoot, wearing a thin pink dress, near collapse.  And her face…

Never in my 22 years have I seen a face so contorted.  Her eyes are desperate in my headlights.

I get out.  She’s shaking, wailing, pleading for help.  And somehow I get her into the car.

“Have you done something?” I ask, meaning to herself.

“Done something?  Done something?  I’ve been beaten, that’s all.”

Upon arrival at the infirmary, porters help her into a wheelchair.  And for the first time I notice the hideous black bruising to her legs.

“What will people think?” she says.  “I’ve been beaten, that’s all… that’s all.”

a draughtsman

with T-square poised

horror perceived

I change jobs.  Help battered wives professionally.  But many years on, retired now, I’m haunted still by that look in her eyes.  And her words, those words…

Paul Beech

Copyright © Paul Beech 2019

 

Too Much Blue

During my long 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’ was included in my poetry and prose collection Twin Dakotas (Cestrian Press, 2016) and subsequently published in Persona Non Grata from Fly On The Wall Poetry Press, 2018.

The latter, edited and compiled by Isabelle Kenyon, was a fundraising anthology for Shelter, a UK charity supporting homeless people, and Crisis Aid UK, a charity supporting victims of poverty, disaster, war and oppression around the world.

My partner Maureen Weldon also had a poem in Persona Non Grata and we greatly enjoyed reading at the launch at New Mills Library, Derbyshire, in October 2018.

 

Too Much Blue

 

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.  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.

 

Paul Beech

 

Copyright © Paul Beech 2016, 2018, 2019

 

 

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

 

 

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