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The Pole

Happy New Year, everyone!

One highlight of the day for Maureen and I was watching The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra with conductor Gustavo Dudamel live on BBC2, 11:15am – 12:45pm. What a fantastic concert!  We were blown away.

But earlier, beneath the twinkling lights of our wee Christmas tree, I flipped open a copy of Twin Dakotas: poetry and prose, my debut collection published by Cestrian Press last year, and re-read a short poem that rather tugged my heartstrings. Here it is…

 

THE POLE

.

I could do it,

.

I could walk along the pole,

the old telegraph pole

that lay on the ground.

.

Arms wide for balance,

one foot gingerly placed

in front of the other,

grandchildren following,

giggling,

I could walk along the pole,

the old telegraph pole on the ground.

.

Half-covered in moss

and fallen leaf,

the pole is rotten now,

yet still I glimpse

their nimble spirits

briefly.

.

Paul Beech

~~

My very best to you all for 2017.

 

Copyright © Paul Beech 2017

 

RIP Cynthia Jobin

I was much saddened to learn that Cynthia Jobin, the American poet, passed away on 13th December 2016.  Regular readers of this blog will know that Cynthia often commented on my posts here in a most thoughtful and supportive way.

I was an avid follower of her own brilliant blog, “littleoldladywho”, and posted my final comment early this morning. Here it is:

~~

Sitting quietly with the sun not yet risen, I think of Cynthia, whose poetry and friendship have meant so much to me since discovering her blog two-and-a-half years ago.

With her wide vocabulary and mastery of form, her humanity, humour and skill in painting pictures in the mind, Cynthia was a most amazing and versatile poet. Her finely-wrought work was not only entertaining but deeply moving and thought-provoking too, playful and profound by turns, even sometimes inviting contemplation of the great mysteries.

We have to be thankful for the beautiful poetry Cynthia left behind for us to treasure; thankful for her friendship too, the warm, lively friendship she showed towards each of us individually who made up her online community. Our world is surely the richer because of her.

In quiet moments like this, when I might have been responding to her latest poem or replying to one of her wonderful comments on my own blog, I will remember “littleoldladywho”.

My sincere condolences to her family.

Paul Beech

~~

Copyright © Paul Beech 2016

Wee Poems from a Lost Trail

Trawling through my files this morning I came across a couple of wee poems written for a poetry trail that didn’t happen in the end. The proposed trail was for an autumn festival at an historic country home in Wales and the brief was to write family-friendly four-line poems relevant to the venue.  I would have enjoyed writing more but it wasn’t to be on this occasion.  Oh well, I thought I’d give my poems an airing anyway, my wee poems from the lost trail…

 

BUZZARD

 

Beyond the Great Hall he hovers,

broad wings, spread tail, cat-like mew.

A small movement in the bracken below.

Now he drops like a stone.

 

 

JOURNEY’S END

 

Under a full moon

the coachman reins in at the Great Hall

and a proud figure alights.

The Squire is safely home again.

 

~~

 

Happy Christmas, everyone!

 

Paul

 

Copyright © Paul Beech 2016

Steeple

Maureen and I recently enjoyed our Chester Poets Christmas bash at a canalside pub in Chester called The Lock Keeper. After the meal we sat in a circle and took turns to read poems, which Kemal Houghton (our Chairman) recorded for broadcast on Vintage Radio’s Poetry Roundup programme over the Christmas weekend – he’s the presenter.  The show will air on the internet (www.vintageradio.org.uk) on Christmas Eve 7-8pm and Christmas Day 10–11am, if you fancy tuning in.

My set included the triolet below written following a brother’s winter visit some years ago. The steeple in question belonged to St John the Evangelist’s Church in Winsford, Cheshire.

Hope you’re all well on with your festive preparations and looking forward to the big day. Maureen and I are having an especially busy time of it as we’re in the throes of moving from our wee flat in Shotton to a retirement bungalow a mile up the Dee Estuary from here, in Connah’s Quay, and aiming to enjoy our Christmas dinner there, beneath a well decorated tree with twinkling lights.

Very best wishes to you all.

 

STEEPLE

 

Landmark, lifemark, the steeple of St John’s.

Pausing, we hear the bells faintly in snow.

Down the chill river, destiny beckons.

Landmark, lifemark, the steeple of St John’s.

Pals all our lives, we’re the lucky ones,

Tramping the valley top, me and my Bro.

Landmark, lifemark, the steeple of St John’s.

Pausing, we hear the bells faintly in snow…

 

Paul Beech

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Copyright © Paul Beech 2016

Medicine Ball

I thought it was about time for another short story, so here goes.

Although fiction, I did attend a private grammar school in Bolton, Lancashire, back in the 50s/60s…

MEDICINE BALL 

By Paul Beech

Bates and Fisher were best friends until one day during the Autumn Term when, at the tuck shop, they fell in love with the same girl.

Janet from the class below was not exactly pretty but had a quiet aura that appealed somehow.

She offered them each a sherbet lemon and both accepted with thanks. Fisher gave her a chunk of cinder toffee in return but Bates, reaching deep in his pockets, turned crimson.  He had only a couple of bob left for bus fares.

He pulled out a coin but Janet stilled his hand. “No, don’t leave yourself short,” she whispered.  “It doesn’t matter.  Not at all.”  Her brown-eyed smile nearly dropped him on the spot.

Fisher might ordinarily have given Bates a chunk of cinder toffee too but didn’t this time.

~

They managed not to speak of Janet for nearly a week. They did have a scrap in the Boys’ Locker Room with Fisher forced to submit, but this was all in good sport, as many times before, no malice in it at all.

Then out of the blue Fisher said, “I don’t get it. I’m the brighter one, better looking by far, more manly too.  So why’s it always you, Bates?  Always you Janet makes eyes at when she thinks I’m not looking?  It’s not fair.”

Bates, suddenly flushed, shook his chum by the lapels. “My dad lost an arm in the war.  He cannot drive.  Yours ponces about in a Bentley.  Is that fair, Fisher?  And what d’you mean, ‘more manly?’”

~

The final straw was the note. It was slipped to Bates by Janet’s friend Elspeth after lunch.

 

Darling, how it pains me every time to see you at a distance, wanting you so, your arms around me, your kiss. Please ring – you have my number.  Let’s meet again soon. 

Desperately, 

Your loving Janet xxx

 

Fisher sneaked the note from Bates’ blazer pocket as they climbed the spiral staircase to the Geography Room.

“You dog,” he said, and Bates kicked him back down.

~

It was bloody. And exercise with a medicine ball should never be that.  But Bates and Fisher were not in the Gym to improve their upper-body strength.  No, at the final bell they’d headed straight down to settle the score between them.  It would be a dual, their chosen weapon PICKLES 3, the heaviest medicine ball on the rack.

Fisher was the taller, the stronger, but with his left ankle swollen from the kick it was an unequal contest. After many a dirty throw from Bates, he now lay gasping on the floor, blood bubbling from his nose, with Janet bent over him sobbing.

She turned to Bates with hate-filled eyes. “How could you?”

~

Fifty years on, an ageing jazz musician in America found a vintage medicine ball for sale on the internet. It was British, well stuffed, marked PICKLES 3 in fading white paint, and he bought it for $160.  His name was Bates.

 

Copyright © Paul Beech 2016

 

 

 

Curlew Sunset

Since publishing my first collection, Twin Dakotas, in August, I’ve felt in the mood to experiment a little with my poetry.

I love the ancient Japanese short poetry forms haiku (focussing on nature) and senryu (similar but focussing on human nature). Purists would probably have a fit, but I thought it might be fun to combine senryu and haiku in alternation as stanzas in a longer poem.  And in the following, written in September from observations in Connah’s Quay and Flint, just down the Dee Estuary from my home here in Shotton, this is just what I did.

I’ll leave it to you to decide whether the experiment was successful! Have a nice Sunday, everyone.

 

CURLEW SUNSET

.

her multi-coloured hair

distracts the eye

from her bones

.

dereliction

a wasteland

sycamore spinners spin

.

haggard on a bench scribbling

he sips soup

dreams of fame

.

curlew sunset

a small abandoned boat

in the saltmarsh

.

a single line

on a stained page

“her multi-coloured hair”

.

Paul Beech 

Copyright © Paul Beech 2016

 

Burwardsley Update

A couple of things…

My review of the Burwardsley Mini Folk Festival, posted here six days ago, was published yesterday (29th October 2016) with a lovely photograph of St. John’s Church on a wonderful local website, Tattenhall Online, and received many hits.  I’m delighted of course – thrilled, if I’m honest!

The mini folk fest, Burwardsley’s first and a hugely enjoyable community event to be sure, raised a whacking £767.40 for repairs to St. John’s Church. A great success by any reckoning.  Kudos to Pam Moyle for organising it.

Have a nice Sunday, everyone.

Paul

Copyright © Paul Beech 2016