Learning the Craft

Now who will free me from the chains of rhyme,
so I may pick and play the notes I choose;
throw off the shackles of the metric line
and pen with liberty the words I use?
Why be a slave to formal modes of verse,
the sonnets, odes and elegies of old;
when I can break the bonds and so immerse
myself in finding methods fresh and bold?
Free verse, I think, gives greater scope to roam
the byways of the heart, the mind, the soul –
the poet may explore the earthy loam
of language and expand its vital role.
But wait, my cautionary Muse declares,
and learn to walk before you climb the stairs.

Bill Fitzsimonds

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | 4 Comments

Lily Briscoe

Lily Briscoe is one of the main characters in Virgina Woolf’s 1927 novel To The Lighthouse.  The action of the novel takes place at the house on Sky that the Ramsey family rent every summer and share with a number of guests, one of whom is Lily, a young artist. Mr Ramsey is a philosopher and Mrs, Ramsey is an archetypal Edwardian upper middle class mother and home maker. The novel covers 10 years spanning the 1st World War. This story is based on Lily much later in her life and imagines how her life may have developed after Woolf left her to her own devices.
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Lily Briscoe sipped her tea from the rose petal porcelain teacup and contemplated the cake stand before her. She wasn’t hungry but felt she ought to have at least one of the fancies on offer. She had several hours to kill before the car would take her to the gallery and there would be the dinner to get through before then. All this was rather extravagant she thought but on the other hand the gallery would be making 35% of the sale of her pictures as well as the considerable kudos of hosting her latest exhibition.

On the wall of the suite she occupied in the Dorchester there was a large gilt framed, probably Victorian, oil painting of a seascape, a sailing ship tossed by heavy seas and, through the spume, the shadowy outline of threatening cliffs and a lighthouse, it’s beam refracted and dispersed by the low cloud and wind driven rain. Since arriving at the hotel she had spent a good deal of her time contemplating the picture and casting her mind back all those years to when she had spent long indolent summers with the Ramsay family at their cottage on Skye. How different things were then. How different she is now.

She was only 19, unworldly, inexperienced, and quite unprepossessing in appearance and the usual expected feminine graces. She was in love with Mrs. Ramsay and, she had eventually to admit to herself, in love with Mr. Ramsay too. Or was it that she wanted to be like them? Mrs. Ramsay’s calm assurance as she spun her web of familial warmth and comfort around them all, and his heroic rational detachment, firmly focused on the external world and the life of the mind. Lily felt she would like to be a mixture of both of them but recognised that in one person there would be a constant battle between such contrasting dispositions. The paintings she attempted while residing with the Ramsays, she had come to realise, had failed because she was confused and unfocused about what she was trying to achieve, what she wanted the pictures to portray. She had been caught between the two contradictory impulses to produce something realistic, objectively true, but at the same time express the existential impulse that shaped the feelings evoked by the subject, its emotion. She gave a wry smile. No wonder she never managed to finish anything, and Mrs. Ramsay had advised getting married and having a family would be achievement enough!

Well, 40 years later, she had still to achieve either of those goals, and felt none the worse for it. After the war, when she had been able to return to her painting, she had let her art be dictated by her emotional sensibilities, her immediate subjective reactions to the world around her, and the desire to escape from the hard-edged reality of the preceding dark years. This had clearly struck a chord, resonated, with the growing art-consuming public and paved the way to her considerable commercial success. As to her rational inclinations, she had unleashed these on the consumers of art, on promotion and marketing, on doing deals and securing contracts. Perhaps the Ramsays, as role models, had led her to be a rather split personality but, in her, they had formed a harmonious and successful business partnership.

Terry Wassall
7th June 2020

Posted in Flash fiction, Prose | Leave a comment

Valerie

Summer-strolling in the park,
my pal Keith and I;
he, outwardly confident, brash;
I, awkward and shy.
Two fifteen-year olds,
our adolescent hormones
fueling us with teenage fantasies
and indiscriminate lust.

Mooching aimlessly,
we ambled in hot sunlight
along pathways, over grass;
among trees and shrubbery,
past the frantic play of shouting children
and the docile dreaming of old men
slumbering gently
on narrow wooden benches.

And then-nearing the tennis courts-
a shout of warning, as a small boy
careered toward us, head down,
chasing an errant ball across the grass.
Too late! A flurry of limbs
as he crashed into Keith
and sprawled upon the ground
in childish woe.

The boy was fine, no bruise or graze:
but who had shouted? I turned
and my heart slipped its moorings,
adrift in a love-warm sea.
The boy’s sister stood before me:
a vision in tennis whites; her brown legs
and perfect smile shouting at me
in the age-old language of desire.

In a hot daze, I watched her
holding her brother’s hand:
we talked and the universe stood still.
She was Valerie, Jewish and beautiful;
a goddess from an ancient land
of cedars, olives, sandalwood and myrrh.
I was Liam, Irish and innocent,
a willing conscript in the cause of love.

Ah, but love’s a terrible thing,
my love had no love for me.
Her heart inclined toward Keith,
and in the days and months
that followed, I drank deeply
from the well of love’s despair;
and Time has not dulled the agony
or memory of Valerie, my sweet Valerie.

Bill Fitzsimons

Posted in Poetry | 2 Comments

The days are long and lend themselves to pleasure,

The days are long and lend themselves to pleasure,
The nights are times to rest and take my ease.
The years go by and I enjoy my leisure,
A solitary life spent as I please.

My shelves are full of books I had long gathered
Against some day when there is time to spare.
For long I have been free, from work untethered,
And fill my days by reading without care.

But in the drowsy sleep of early dawn
My mind goes back to stories lived and true.
My placid cast of mind becomes withdrawn,
Remembering a distant time with you.

Where is the love and joy of yesteryear,
You on my arm, a future bright and clear?

Terry Wassall

Posted in Poetry, Sonnet | 2 Comments

Climate Changer

While sitting alone facing into the sun
She protests to people who don’t listen
A planet on fire is a smoking gun
While being adrift without a mission

Saying her views instead of school learning
With rouge seas rising, icebergs are melting
Clueless lame leaders ignore all warnings
Pretending their concerns to be helping

But with the media a questionable liar
An angry Greta warns as she screams
Shouting out loud “our world is on fire
How dare you, you have stolen my dreams”

Mistakes can now be seen and are now turning
Still they complain about her school learning

Jim Mallin

Posted in Poetry, Sonnet | Tagged | Leave a comment

The funeral leaves me numb

The funeral leaves me numb
(but flying cakes make me laugh)

I recall
the afternoon we toyed
with impossibilities,
joked and fantasized

about a coconut slice
without stabiliser,

flying off the plate

across the fourth floor café,
hitting
one of the tall, diagonal windows,

and you, dear cousin,
still dreaming of a refund.

Linda Marshall

Posted in Poetry | 1 Comment

Masks

Written and spoken by Myrna Moore

They have always been there from Africa gleaming wood carved in praise
And supplication.
To Egypt immortalised in gold for the journey into eternity.
Through China, Tibet, Indonesia and pre – Columbus Americas.
They have always been there
Greeks and Romans honoured Dionysus in ritualised dance.

Played out in Comedos, Tragos and Satire
Ever turning
Evolving into Venetian Carnivale
Hidden or exposed
Surgical
Liturgical
Protection PPE

No longer a contemplation
No longer a subterfuge or Theatrical device
Just a thing of beauty or suspicion
Nevertheless, necessary for our survival.
We plead
With the gods, call upon our ancestors to save us.

Meanwhile we don our masks
Present a new face
To the world.

Myrna Moore

Posted in Audio, Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment

Danger in Plastic

It took more than ten minutes
For the red kite to reach the ground
Breakfast of plastic spoils the dream
And it took less than a minute

The red kite had reached the ground
Eating the plastic thinking it green
Staggers into a limousine
It took less than a minute

The vehicle drives away from the scene
The driver annoyed
There’s a car wash in town
It took less than ten minutes

Jim Mallin

Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment

A football Coach sitting on a Blue Bucket

On a blue bucket, in his new dugout
He stretches his seeing to another place
Which widens his view to see further out

Wondering what the fuss is all about
He’s content in his own confined space
On his blue bucket, in his new dugout

His differing ways will leave no one in doubt
That he’s preparing for a championship race
While widening his view with a better lookout

In his humble way he’s worked it all out
And now ready to show his football face
On a blue bucket, in his new dugout

Everyone’s ready for the big turnabout
As he works his players in a fitness chase
While widening his view with a better lookout

Confidence is now at a very high shout
With all concerned accepting his gruelling pace
On his blue bucket, in his new dugout
He widens his view to see further out.

Jim Mallin

Posted in Poetry | 1 Comment

The Mask of the Harlequin

The world and its ladies of the night
Stare at my lilac cheeks,
The dark slits, my slanting eyes,

The wig cascading over
Velvet shoulders
In synthetic purple whorls.

The mask grins fixedly.
Inside, my smile can’t grow bigger.
I totter in glittering boots.

Harlequin, the old shyness fades
Behind your face,
Grows into giddy bravado.

The ladies’ gentlemen converse,
Light a cigar in my honour.
They fail to recognise who I am,

Or see that the ice cream colours
Mask an inner harlequin.

Linda Marshall

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | 1 Comment