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Down South

Morning folks, and a very Happy May Bank Holiday to all in the UK and Republic of Ireland.  Fingers crossed the weather bucks up.  It’s a misty, drizzly morning here on Halkyn Mountain.

Last weekend, I joined my sister and we made the long journey south by road, to visit our brother with dementia at the care home he’s in.

We weren’t allowed indoors owing to Covid restrictions, but he was brought outside so we could talk to him in a safe, socially-distanced way.

It was painful to see our much-loved brother, once a top inventor in the television field, so frail and bent now, his speech indistinct.  But those smiles he gave… they truly touched our hearts.

Here’s a tanka I wrote about him a while back.  It was published in Blithe Spirit, Volume 31, Number 1, February 2021.

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TANKA

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his voice on the breeze

my bro with

dementia…

childhood memories

only I hold now

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Paul Beech

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Take care, all.

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Copyright © Paul Beech 2021

In Loco Parentis

Gosh, what a glorious Sunday morning it is here on Halkyn Mountain, a dazzling sun boring through overcast to illuminate the mountainside and estuary below.  And how strange it is, in a pleasurable way, to look back six decades to my first year in employment as a 15 year old boy, when I worked with a true master of the electrician’s trade.

Sadly he would live only a few years more, though never to be forgotten by his grateful apprentice…

My haibun below was published in the November 2020 issue of failed haiku: A Journal of English Senryu, guest-edited by Roberta Beary.

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In Loco Parentis

I passed the spot again the other day, driving the old coast road. There on the left, that gap in the tangle of bough and briar…

Back in ’62, this was where, having arrived by train, Joe and I would begin our heathland hike to the Great Hall.

Twenty minutes at a brisk pace would bring us to the Hall in all its faded Jacobean majesty. Whenever electrical work was needed here, Joe would be sent for. I was his apprentice, a 15 year old boy. Joe was entrusted with my care though he’d stand no messing, that was for sure.

A perfectionist he was, old Joe. And perfection is what he demanded of me. If I were an eighth of an inch out in drilling a wooden pattress block for a switch or socket, he’d fling it down to smash on the stone floor.

Often though, in quiet moments, Joe would burst into song. Trouble was, it would always be the same song, always the same verse too: ‘The Floral Dance’, verse 6. I’d even find the words on my own lips, unbidden.

I still do occasionally, passing that spot on the old coast road.

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missile crisis

how we sweated through

those days of terror

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Paul Beech

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Copyright © Paul Beech 2020, 2021

Charlotte Digregorio’s Daily Haiku 3rd April 2021

Hi Folks,

It was a huge thrill on Thursday 1st April to be published for the first time in brass bell: a haiku journal, surely one of the best journals of its kind on the web.  Zee Zahava, the editor, selected two of my senryu for this issue, the theme for which was HAPPINESS.

And today Charlotte Digregorio is featuring one of these on her wonderful Daily Haiku.  To say I’m chuffed would be something of an understatement!

Here’s a link if you’d care to check it out:

Daily Haiku: April 3, 2021 | Charlotte Digregorio’s Writer’s Blog (wordpress.com)

Happy Easter, everyone, and take care,

Paul

Tanka (“coconut palms…”)

Gosh, what a glorious spring morning it is here, on Halkyn Mountain.  So peaceful, still and sunny.  Just the merest trace of mist hazing the estuary below.  A blackbird singing somewhere. 

A perfect morning for me to post another of my tanka from The Helping Hand Haiku Anthology edited by the renowned haiku poet and anthologist Robert Epstein and published last year by Middle Island Press.

The theme for this anthology (which includes senryu, tanka and haiga) was helping, kindness and care.

The old lady in my tanka was my precious mum.  Sadly she suffered Alzheimer’s during the last years of her life but was well looked after in a wonderful Welsh care home, where many of the kind carers were bright young women from the Philippines.  My dear dad, although frail and elderly, would visit her daily whatever the weather.

Mum passed away in 2006 aged 81; Dad in 2012 aged 89.

Have a good Sunday, everyone, and take care.

Paul

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TANKA

coconut palms

in her smile

she spoon-feeds

the old lady

in the corner

Paul Beech

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Copyright © Paul Beech 2020, 2021

On a misty river morning…

On this quiet Sunday morning, with a light mist hazing the Dee Estuary below our Welsh mountain home, I shall, as promised, share with you two more of my experimental works recently published in Failed Haiku: A Journal of English Senryu.

These are my musings-and-music themed double monoku and my inner-city crime themed haibun.  They appeared together in the journal’s February issue, edited by Bryan Rickert.

It’s good to experiment a bit, isn’t it?  Especially when things work out!

I should just mention that the haibun, overly dramatic as it might seem, is actually perfectly true in all respects except one – the 1980s inner-city area was NOT called CW9.

Take greatest care, everyone, and have a lovely day.

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decoding the cipher of life he downs another dram

                                                                            river dawn his song on her lips

CW9

I’m a marked man. Have received death threats, been held at knife-point. We’re all marked men or women here. The Incident Book would make a best seller.

The year is ’83 and CW9 is the toughest patch in the city. Drugs, prostitution, muggings, murder. Few could cope with it. But we are those few. Hand-picked for our skills, our nerve. An elite squad, you could say. “The 9-ers.”

Another report. Another coffee. I’m late away, always late away.

Check the outside camera for shadows in shadow. Check I’m buttoned tight, nothing for thugs to snatch hold of. Then out, and straight to the car.

Passing the cemetery I check my mirrors. Just in case…

schoolboy japes my daughters beg a story

Paul Beech

On a grey mountain morning…

Hi Folks,

On this grey morning here on Halkyn Mountain, Wales, my thoughts turn to… experimentation!

As a haiku poet, I’m keen to develop my work in positive ways.  And I’ve been doing just this with experimental work in each of the last three issues of Failed Haiku: A Journal of English Senryu, as follows:

Firstly, a Halloween themed senryu + monoku pairing in the December 2020 issue, edited by Bryan Rickert.  (This gave me an opportunity to write a micro-ghost story!)

Secondly, a dementia themed senryu + monoku pairing in the January 2021 issue, edited by Mike Rehling. 

And thirdly, two pieces in the February 2021 issue, edited by Bryan Rickert: a musings-and-music themed double monoku plus an inner city crime themed haibun.

Let’s give the first a miss until Halloween comes round again.  The double monoku and inner city haibun, I’ll share with you soon.  But today, with dementia an issue close to my heart for family reasons, I’m posting my piece on that theme…

Have a good Sunday, everyone, and take care,

Paul

A senryu + monoku pairing

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old now

the speech of a distant shire

on his tongue

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a mistle thrush in mist he battles dementia

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Paul Beech

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Copyright © Paul Beech 2021

Tanka (“he sends a copy…”)

This morning I’m going to post a poem of mine from an anthology I’m especially proud to be in: The Helping Hand Haiku Anthology, edited by Robert Epstein and published in 2020 by Middle Island Press.

My darling partner Maureen Weldon is also proud to have work included.

Robert Epstein is a distinguished haiku poet and anthologist, who works as a psychotherapist in San Francisco.  And the theme he set for this anthology (which includes senryu, tanka and haiga) was kindness, helping and care.  The contributors include many top haikai poets of the present day.

The poem below, one of my three tanka in the anthology, was painful to write as the subject, a wonderful lady writer in Florida, was one of my most faithful followers on this blog.  The book I sent her was my collection Twin Dakotas: poetry and prose, from Cestrian Press, 2016.

Sadly she died of cancer in May 2019, aged 75.

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TANKA

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he sends a copy free

and a continent away

she keeps his book on her desk

for comfort

through her long dying

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Paul Beech

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Have a good Sunday, everyone, and take care,

Paul

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Copyright © Paul Beech 2021

Rhydymwyn featured…

Hi Folks,

My darling partner Maureen Weldon’s poem ‘Rhydymwyn’ is today featured on Charlotte Digregorio’s Writer’s Blog.

Rhydymwyn is a charming little village in the upper Alyn Valley, Flintshire, Wales, just a couple of miles or so from our home on Halkyn Mountain.

A charming little village, yes, with wonderful wildlife all around.  But with a dark secret from the Second World War as well…

Do check it out!

Here’s a link:

https://charlottedigregorio.wordpress.com/2021/01/25/poem-by-maureen-weldon/#comments

Keep safe and well, everyone,

Paul

Copyright © Paul Beech 2021 

Charlotte Digregorio’s Writer’s Blog January 23rd, 2021

Hi Folks,

It’s always a thrill to have a poem featured on Charlotte Digregorio’s wonderful Writer’s Blog.  And today she’s posted a tanka of mine, one first published last year in Poetry in the Plague Year, a Poetry Kit online anthology.

The writing of it whisked me back to the Lancashire pit and mill town where I grew up.  And specifically to my first morning at our local Infants’ School in 1952.  It was a morning I’ll never forget for all the wrong reasons!

Here’s a link, if you’d care to check it out:

https://charlottedigregorio.wordpress.com/2021/01/23/tanka-by-paul-beech-2/#respond

Keep safe and well, everyone.

Paul

Copyright © Paul Beech 2021

Blo͞o Outlier Journal

Christmas 2020 was unlike any other we’ve ever known.  Christmas in lockdown!  But here on Halkyn Mountain, Wales, with a little light snow from time to time lending a seasonal touch, we had a grand old Yuletide, Maureen and I.  A super chicken dinner on Christmas Day with best brandy and a traditional fruit cake, which she’d baked.

And the festivities could hardly have got off to a better start for us than with the online publication, on Christmas Eve, of the fabulous first issue of Blo͞o Outlier Journal, edited by top UK haikai poet Alan Summers.

A beefy journal it certainly is, running to 131 pages.  The amazing artwork and photography fairly leap from the page to perfectly compliment the brilliant poetry.  A most exciting and inspirational journal it is too, believe me!

And how honoured we feel, Maureen and I, to have a senryu each included in this inaugural issue.  Many thanks to the founding-editor Alan Summers.  Under his expert editorship, I’m sure Blo͞o Outlier Journal will go far.

Here’s my poem.  It’s on page 114, adjacent a street corner snap of an amusingly hand-painted sign on a rough white wall, advertising a café…

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covid corner

large ladies without masks

talk gherkins

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Paul Beech

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And here’s Maureen’s.  It’s on page 115, alongside an indoor shot of artistically arranged books on a white shelf…

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reading your work

I slip

into your skin

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Maureen Weldon

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Wishing you all a happy, healthy, peaceful New Year.

Take care,

Paul

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Copyright © Paul Beech 2021