Sunday, 30 January 2011

Sun Worshippers: SJ Murphy

Naked branches, left to right, back and for,
swaying, just the remnants of last years growth
sitting, waiting dormant 'til buds spring forth,
bursting through it's crust the new year's oath

to grow again. New leaves year on year,
never failing, never dallying in their efforts,
to please the view, fill the optic sphere
with nature's beauty. Each leaf affords

a beauty bestowed by all things light
and airy, repaying the debt during hours
of Summer Sun. Longer days; respite
from the cold, Spring to life, flowers

aplenty, now high up above a once,
not so long ago, darkened horizon,
bringer of life and floral brilliance.
Ages have worshipped, life bringer, our Sun.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Worked at a few ...

 ... places where this generosity from the boss would have got a bit more productivity!!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Driven Off The Road: SJ Murphy

Driven off the road, or so it would seem,
For no other reason she could fathom,
She'd ended up, car smashed to smithereens,
In the ditch from which she now climbed.
The rain driving into her face, feet slipping,
The now mud, just hours before, firm embankment.
She remembered a flash of blinding light.
How long had she been unconscious?
Her head now pounding, not just rain was running down
her face; the crimson tinge mingled with the driving
rain, the pumping in her head increasing. How long
Have I been asleep? Her watch had stopped, no idea
where her phone had gone. She kept on up the slope
Until she saw headlights, waving her arms for
Help, she saw the car slow down. Then without
A hint of remorse the damaged car sped up, hit her,
Flew her flying through the air, the last thing through
Her mind, the last thing that she saw, the brother
She had not seen since she went to the cops.

The Listeners: Walter de la Mare (1873-1956)

I just saw this poem while looking for something else on the internet and as often happens it caught my eye so I thought I would share it with you. I'd never read it before but there's a certain "power" within line 28 "That I kept my word ...". I hope you like this poem as I did;


"Is there anybody there?" said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grass
Of the forest's ferny floor;
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller's head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
"Is there anybody there?" he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller's call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
'Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:--
"Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word," he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.

HTML "tab"

I needed to space the header of the blog just away from the margin and it was bugging me so I did a quick search on how to add a "tab" in HTML. All you have to do is add this code   as many times as you like to get the desired indent.

Hope this helps anyone if they ever feel the need.

Leave a comment if it helped and if it didn't leave me a comment then aswell, I might be able to help with your problem.

Steve

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Insomnia: SJ Murphy

A poem named "Insomnia" could only be written and posted at an unearthly hour like ... 0445;

Tossing and turning 'til I take no more,
dog disturbed by the creaking door,
kettle loud like a 2am drummer,
live cricket from down under.

Searching twitter and irrelevant blogs,
it's all turned into a disturbing smog,
another coffee and another smoke,
all lights out a nocturnal cloak.

Incessant comment on the bowler's arm,
adverts aimed at blokey charm,
Kiwis smashing that hard heavy ball,
the Pakistani total far too small.

Far too awake to contemplate sleep,
lay and toss, those bloody sheep,
adverts again shoot 'em up movie,
Vorsprung durch Technik looking tough and moody.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Ludovico Einaudi



I've been listening to Classic FM on and off for quite a few years now, it depends what mood I'm in, what time of day it is and lots of other things. I drive around most days in my job, some days I'm delivering stuff, other days I spend a bit more time at each store installing some kind of display stand, some days I even get to use my big drill (it's mainly shops I work in) but one way or the other I'm in the van for a good part of each (working) day. Some days I want loud rock music in the van and I don't give a monkeys if I'm stuck in traffic and I want Black Sabbath as loud as possible, if I want it loud, it's loud. That's me beside you, when you're not having the best of days but sorry, like I say, when it's gotta be loud, it's gotta be loud.

But, and yes I'm starting a sentence with "But", there are days and lots of them, more than the "loud" days I'm guessing, I've never done an analytical study, I'm guessing, that Classic FM just does it for me. There's something very soothing about background music and that's what it is for me. I'm not an avid listener, I can't tell my Beethoven's 5th Symphony from my Bach's Piano Concerto No.12 in D Minor (that was a complete guess so if there is a Bach's 12th in D Minor, I got lucky). Although, having said all that, I did spot Holst's Planets "Mars" the other day, very impressed with myself when the host confirmed my suspicion.

There was a day, many years ago, about 5 years ago it must be now. I was on one of my long trips around the UK, had probably left home on Monday morning not expecting to be back again until Wednesday or Thursday, anyway, I'd just pulled up outside a Morrisons' Supermarket and I'd been listening to the most beautiful piece of music I'd heard in a long time. Simon Bates was the presenter and I listened intently for him to announce who and what the piece of music was but his words sounded like complete gibberish to me. There was no way around it, I had to find out what that piece of music was and I had to know now! Not being the faint-hearted type, I rang directory enquiries and got the number for Classic FM, called the number and spoke to the receptionist, who explained their server was down and she couldn't look on her "system", how many times have we heard that? I was quite insistent that I found out what the piece of music was and explained it had been played only a few minutes previous. She went through a few Mozarts and Beethovens and eventually repeated Bates's words, "Giorni Dispari" by Ludovico Einaudi, no wonder I didn't get it first time! She was very patient with me and spelled out the piece of music and Einaudi's name, she was even good enough to tell me the name of his latest CD "Echoes".

So there I was, name and title of an album I just had to buy which I dutifully did over the course of the week and have had a love affair with the music of Ludovico Einaudi ever since. We've been to see him perform live twice, once in Liverpool with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and once at the Barbican in London with a small arrangement of musicians including his ever present friend and accompanying cellist, Marco Decimo.

Ludo (as I like to call him) is so unassuming and modest, he hardly spoke while on stage and at both concerts came out after the performance to sign articles, CD covers, programmes etc. A very quietly spoken chap, I think amazed by the throngs of people queueing to shake his hand and have something signed.

If ever you get the chance to listen to "Echoes" "Giorni Dispari" or even see Ludo live I would highly recommend any or all of the above.

http://www.einaudiwebsite.com/

All the best

Steve

Monday, 17 January 2011

Shakespeare's Sonnets

I ordered a book of Shakespeare's Sonnets from Amazon on Friday evening and it was waiting for me when I got in from work today. Thought I'd better have a look at them and do a bit of research before I went to the British Library to see Don Paterson among others discussing them on February 2nd. I've read very little Shakespeare so this will be a venture into something I've wanted to do for quite some time.

I'll post again once I've had a chance to read and research.

Steve

0430 pick up ...

on Saturday morning and off we went to North Wales to see Paul and Von (Yvonne) and of course Alex. What a time of day to get up and get on the road but we knew unless we left at that time we'ld never get to Wales in time to see anymore than an hour or so of Alex on Sunday morning.

2 hours in and we stopped for Coffee at Tamworth Services on the M54; last time I was there the engine on my van had blown up and it took 4 AA patrols and about 6 hours to travel the 120 miles it had just taken me an hour and a half to cover on the way up.

It was great to see Alex in his Tae Kwon Do class and then rugby training for Mold RFC; he went on to score a try in the game on Sunday morning which was great to see before we left for home. He's turned into a very mature, and cheeky, little 9 year old.

More than suitably fed and watered, with a fantastic chinese at The Bridge Saturday night, the weekend was great, thanks to Paul for his hospitality but more importantly to Von for putting up with all our blokey shennaniguns.

Will do my best not to leave it so long next time !!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Urban Fox: SJ Murphy

Cold creeps through the open door,

Penetrating bone,

Dark obscurest scene,
What lurks within that darkness ?

Branches rustle, softest movement,
Alarms betraying silence,
Windows reflecting from within,
What is that moving out there ?

Slightest breeze awakens stillness,
The stillness of the night,
Dark descended hours ago,
I'm sure there's something out there.


They look like stars within the bed,
Something moved I saw for sure,
Eyes reflect the dimmest bulb,
I've not gone mad, it was there.


STOPPED dead still and then a scamper,
Swiftness leaving just a blur,
Mans eyes no time to adjust,
Night prowl of the urban fox ... I think.

If: Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master,
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And meet those two impostors just the same,
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they have gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

---------------------------

This poem was over a doorway at the leadership training school I attended whilst in the Royal Navy; I've always loved it but in that environment it was such an apt poem - anyone that didn't get inspired by it is a goddamn heathen and should burn at the stake - I don't mean that.

We had a similar conversation ...

... during a training session we had today. A competitor to the company I do a lot of work for has undercut them and this was the type of conversation we had during the morning's training session.


Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Long Time a Child: Hartley Coleridge 1796-1849 (son of Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

Long time a child, and still a child, when years
Had painted manhood on my cheek, was I, —
For yet I lived like one not born to die;
A thriftless prodigal of smiles and tears,
No hope I needed, and I knew no fears.
But sleep, though sweet, is only sleep, and waking,
I waked to sleep no more, at once o'ertaking
The vanguard of my age, with all arrears
Of duty on my back. Nor child, nor man,
Nor youth, nor sage, I find my head is gray,
For I have lost the race I never ran:
A rathe December blights my lagging May;
And still I am a child, though I be old,
Time is by debtor for by years untold.

Monday, 10 January 2011

I did nothing today ...

... and still got paid was exactly what I was thinking earlier and I saw this Dilbert clip so just had to post it on the blog. Work for today was cancelled at the last minute yesterday afternoon so no chance to find anything else in that short time, which is fine for one day but being self-employed that can't happen too often.

Had the chance to take Olly for a walk up on Dunstable Downs which inspired me to write "Fallen Oak"; I posted it earlier today.

Fallen Oak: SJ Murphy

Needles pricking into the face,
the vast expanse and open space,
the needles driving, bare skinned,
face exposed to the rain and wind.

The frozen hoof print ready to catch
you out, the print not much of a match,
for the boots are sturdy, they're strong,
the pace to keep against the throng,


Of the onslaught, contempt, wave after wave,
the storm keeps hitting, battering the slave
of winter, walk and walk, blood pumping,
up and down the hills, legs and lungs screaming.

The dismal scene from months gone
by, uprooted Oak, roots exposed, bygone
times the Royal has stood and fought,
the wind, the rain, the final onslaught

the gales and gusts the final act,
the path we've walked along and tracked,
many times before, just firewood, embers and smoke,
the future now for that exposed, bygoned, Royal Oak.



Sunday, 9 January 2011

Christinaki: SJ Murphy

February,
1994,
February third,
to be precise.

Christinaki,
sank,
all crew,
lost at sea.

Herald steamed,
we tried to help,
we, like others, were,

too far away,
when, the mayday,
call, came.

You DON'T,
mess, with the sea.
I only saw, we only saw,

orange, lifejackets,
survival suits,
rigid, inflatable, boats.

We, fought, the seas,
the battering we got,
we had endured, before.

But everyone of us,
every man, beside,
every man, fell silent, that day.

I don't believe,
anyone survived,
the sinking,
of the Christinaki.

Coffee and Croissants: SJ Murphy

Let's go now, decision made in a flash,
Before the rain comes down, splash splash,
Quick, quick, don't muse and don't dawdle,
We'll be home for coffee and croissants.

Rush, rush and down came the tent,
Away went the surfboards, money all spent,
Quick, quick, pack away and don't dawdle,
We'll be home for coffee and croissants.

So drove through the night, oh the deafening snores,
From front and back, that would knock down doors,
Quick, quick, don't stop and don't dawdle,
We'll be home for coffee and croissants.

Drowsy, what a morning, torrential downpour,
After grabbing a couple of hours, no more,
Quick, quick, I slept, no didn't dawdle,
Thank god for coffee and croissants.

The Hippopotamus: T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)

THE BROAD-BACKED hippopotamus
Rests on his belly in the mud;
Although he seems so firm to us
He is merely flesh and blood.

Flesh and blood is weak and frail,
Susceptible to nervous shock;
While the True Church can never fail
For it is based upon a rock.

The hippo’s feeble steps may err
In compassing material ends,
While the True Church need never stir
To gather in its dividends.



The ’potamus can never reach
The mango on the mango-tree;
But fruits of pomegranate and peach
Refresh the Church from over sea.

At mating time the hippo’s voice

Betrays inflexions hoarse and odd,
But every week we hear rejoice
The Church, at being one with God.

The hippopotamus’s day
Is passed in sleep; at night he hunts;
God works in a mysterious way—
The Church can sleep and feed at once.

I saw the ’potamus take wing
Ascending from the damp savannas,
And quiring angels round him sing
The praise of God, in loud hosannas.

Blood of the Lamb shall wash him clean
And him shall heavenly arms enfold,
Among the saints he shall be seen
Performing on a harp of gold.

He shall be washed as white as snow,
By all the martyr’d virgins kist,
While the True Church remains below
Wrapt in the old miasmal mist.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Winter Cold: SJ Murphy

Distant, like ships passing coldly,
Bows making waves, captains of vessels,
Knowing each other, not caring,
Dead, winter cold, talking might help.

Driving through water, pushing aside,
The hell, the fire and the demons,
Hell burning inside, then freezing,
Dead, winter cold, talking might help.

Heart encased in thin winter ice,
Blood boiling not melting away,
Why distant like ships passing coldly ?
Dead, winter cold, talking might help.

Wakes meet once vessels have passed,
One going east, one going west,
No ground in the middle to meet,
Dead, winter cold, talking might help.

Maggot: Paul Muldoon

Another fantastic book; rhymes, themes and characters again stretch across poems from beginning to end making this another one of his collections to read in one go. A further reading will be necessary and even choosing poems to read "out of context" with the rhythm and theme of the book. Doing this will give the reader a chance to judge poems on their own merit. Composed to be read as a collection poems will stand on their own as masterpieces.

Muldoon is a real intellect which can make for difficult understanding at times, often making faces at the page when a poem is finished thinking "what the fuck was that all about". But like I say a second or third read through will shed more light I'm sure.

Anyway, 3 books I would highly recommend to anyone who fancies a look at Paul Muldoon; Moy Sand and Gravel (2002), Horse Latitudes (2006) and Maggot (2010) all published by Faber and Faber.

Good reading!

Steve

Horse Latitudes

What a book "Horse Latitudes" was, second Muldoon book in a few days and it was just as good as the first "Moy Sand and Gravel".

Paul is quickly becoming my favourite poet. Poems link together, characters, phrases and themes stretch throughout the book. I've found it best to read these books in one go, put an hour aside, sit down and enjoy !!

"Maggot", Paul Muldoon's latest collection of poems, released in 2010 is next on the reading list and I'm eagerly awaiting the reading at King's College, London on 14th March.

Thanks for looking,

Steve

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Muldoon & Paterson Readings

Paul Muldoon is reading his own work at King's College London on 14th March, see more here;

http://atm.kcl.ac.uk/event/2011/03/14/paul-muldoon

And Don Paterson is reading Shakespeare's Sonnets at  the British Library on 2nd february, see more here;

http://www.bl.uk/whatson/events/event116257.html

See you there if you come along.

Steve

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Layman's Creed and all that: SJ Murphy

I've done time, not that type of time,
Done time, stood up and assembled,
“We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of Heaven and Earth”, the Nicene Creed and all that.

I,
Little old me,
Prefer to believe, in a good Man,
Many men but this Man,
Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum.

Spoke out for what he believed,
Beliefs, not conventional or “right”,
“Be careful” His friends whispered,
Stood by Him, til the last, most.

Tracked down, captured, humiliated,
Tortured, nailed, left to die,
One to His right, one to His Left,
Jesus the Nazarene King of the Jews.

Nailed, through hands, nailed through feet,
Nailed, suppos'd friend, suppos'd follower,
Last thoughts, of forgiveness,
For the nailers and the nailer.

Forgiveness, a wonderful gift,
Wonderful ability and state,
Of the mind, to forgive and offer prayers,
When nailed, crucified and dying.

Might still be there if these were the words,
When stood up and assembled,
“I believe in one Iesus, the Man, the Forgiver,
maker of Christianity and Faith”, the Layman's Creed and all that.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Paul Muldoon


I just couldn't wait, I bypassed finishing David Copperfield and jumped straight into "Moy Sand and Gravel" by Paul Muldoon. Like I said yesterday, once you're passed the first few pages you're on a roll, you get the rhythm and flow and away you go.  I really didn't think I was going to get passed about page 20 but I stuck with it and there are some fantastic poems in this book.

I bought 3 Muldoon books about a week ago and am reading them in order, "Moy Sand and Gravel" followed by "Horse Latitudes" then his latest collection "Maggot".

Paul is going to be at Kings College, London in March later this year so I've made a note in my diary to go along and hear him read his own writings.

Here's a taster; http://thepoeticquotidian.blogspot.com/2007/01/paul-muldoon-turn.html

Or read by Paul himself; http://www.paulmuldoon.net/audio/TheTurn.mp3

http://www.paulmuldoon.net/

Now do I start "Horse Latitudes" now or do I leave it until tomorrow.

Take care

Steve

Empty Page: SJ Murphy

Empty page, empty page,
sing to me, sing to me.

Don't leave me here
with nothing to write.

Give me something,
something to write.

Something other,
other than white.

Don't go !
Don't leave !

Come back !
Empty page, don't leave.

You've left
you're gone.

Empty page, you're gone.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Reading trends

I can't just pick up a book and read it, for me to get stuck into a novel I need that book to "mean" something. That, to me, means it needs to have a place in history. Whether that be a non-fiction book that talks about some time, or some person, in history e.g. I read a biography of Henry VIII, I learnt so much about the man that added to the so called barbaric murderer that everyone knows him as. Educated in the arts and literature, as every monarch and heir to the throne is, but often lost in the years of "chinese whispers" as I like to think of the way history is passed down.

Some people are lucky enough to have had a good formal education and often people, like myself, realise that education wasn't high on the priority list early on and get to a point in their life where they want to know more about the so called important things in life. Those important things to me are; history - world wars, language (I've got numerous copies of old english and latin self learn books that I'll never get round to studying), genealogy; and important literati. Things tick away in my mind and eventually something will spark to make me pick up a Charles Dickens novel for example. I've read Homer, Virgil and Dante, not easy reads but once you get passed the first 50 pages and get the rhythm it can be very satisfying to finish one of these works.

I've nearly finished David Copperfield (the latest spark) and when that's done I have lots of poetry I'm excited to get stuck into. Paul Muldoon I've just found recently, a 1988 copy of Philip Larkin's Collected Poems (of which there are many more poems than the 2003 version I've read) and trying to understand TS Eliot's "Waste Land".

So, lots to read and so little time. I'll leave reviews along the way so keep checking back to see if there's anything that interests you.

Thanks

Steve

Just managed ...

... to sign back into my Blog, not sure why I couldn't get back in but I'm there now. Thought my blogging career was over at the first hurdle.

2 days in ...

... to 2011, just recovering from yet another New Years party at our house. Another 4am finish with Metallica, The Who and The Stereophonics blasting til the last breathe.

Back to work tomorrow, Bank Holiday Monday (now there's a Stereophonics track for you !).