Still by Tony Burrows

Still by Tony Burrows

Nobody in particular is present here,

Here in the old churchyard,

Though they all come to rest,and lay beside,

The weary and the unaware, the late,

The dearly departed,

Faithful servant abide,

And those who just fell asleep,

For others to weep, and stand aside,

Uncomfortable in unmetered mumbling,

Mourning uncommon prayer,

With so so many bleak wreath words unsaid,

And wipe away tissue tears, to be left,

On the soon to be lost, and never found,

Still forgotten graves of the dead,

Seeking salvation with upturned palms,

Blanket blind, woolly flock,

Grazing by their shepherd not,

Crosses and prayers and twenty third psalm,

Stand shoulder to shoulder,

In the still and calm,

Of the church clock marking tick by tick time,

Time past over to trees that reach and etch four seasons,

And in its quarters beats the stone ’til,

Truth is gathered as dust, and time is no more,

Only still,

Still, there is no time for the dead,

For tomorrows tomorrow are on the march,

In warm September sun dried sun,

As bright as a star new,

New grow into uniforms with polished pop out faces,

Full of gilded parental promise, eager eyed, wide,

Wide as the green gates they must pass by,

Whilst in the still, leaves hold their fall, and

A young swallow hesitates before turning to fly,

Confounded, disappointed Mary rises and spirits away,

And something strangely empty now,

Now, nobody in particular, is in the old churchyard, bar I.

THE FAKE MASK by Pete Brammer

THE FAKE MASK by Pete Brammer

 

I have turned my back on the ones I love,

Carefully closing the garden gate,

Tramping my way with a tear in the eye,

To where, my future awaits.

I turn and wave, then let my arm fall,

As family wave back, from beyond the wall.

 

In uniform proud, I head for the front,

To the battle that has to be won,

But will I join the ones who will die?

Those fathers, uncles and sons,

‘Pray God I be spared’ is all that I ask,

Since leaving my home, I have dropped the fake mask.

 

A mask that said, ‘I am not afraid’

For behind it lay fear, and great dread,

I have witnessed friends and comrades, so many,

Seriously wounded and dead,

So reverently, their remains, were duly sent back,

I don’t want to be a name, on a memorial plaque.

Christmas is … by Kevin Murphy

Christmas is…

Christmas is a time of merriment … and melancholy.
 We look back at happy times.
 We look for friends to share merriment now.
 We look for greetings and presents to send and to give.
We look around, see others worse off than ourselves.
We look down at the earth, sleeping – resting after a busy year.
We look at the greetings from absent friends.
We look at the parcels, potential.
From our melancholy, we look up.
            We look up at the stars, the universe out there,
            The Star in the East.
            We look up to a future
Look up, Look up.

THE STUDY OF DREAMS by Cynthia Smith

THE STUDY OF DREAMS by Cynthia Smith

Studying such an ephemeral subject as dreams is problematical, as each person has their own sleeping thoughts locked in their heads. Some people insist that they don’t dream, but this is because on waking to reality their somnolent thoughts and images are wiped from their memory. Everyone dreams. It has been proven that people who are blind from birth experience dreams, even though they can see nothing.

What is a dream? Some theories have deduced that dreams are the mind’s way of working out the events of the day, or previous days. Recurring dreams seem to indicate that the dreamer is worried or frightened about something, which is preying on their mind. The difference between night dreaming and day dreaming is that in the latter the dreamer can control the thoughts and events of the dream and end it when they wish.

 

Despite the problems, Some people have made a study of dreams. In the 1950s three American psychologists, Kleitman, Dement and Aserinsky, used laboratory techniques to study dreams. They introduced the method of awakening and questioning volunteers about their dreams and found that during periods of sleep accompanied by rapid eye movements (REMs) subjects were usually able to give detailed accounts of their dreams.

In his study The Collective Unconscious the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung writes that many of his patients, despite being poorly educated and untravelled, could describe happenings in their dreams with striking resemblance to myths from many different cultures. He was at a loss to explain why or how.

The most widely-accepted studies on dreams are those of Sigmund Freud. One of his main tenets is that dreams are based upon wishes, recollections and fantasies related to deep emotional reactions of early childhood: a heavily disguised form of infantile wish-fulfilment. However, Freud later came to accept that there are some dreams which do not embody the fulfilment of infantile wishes. These were often recurring dreams in which the dreamer re-enacts a traumatic event which he has experienced.

The results of dream studies remain divided and controversial, but it is probably true to say that dreams are a mode of symbolic expression, unique to each dreamer, but with some recognisable shared characteristics.

A Brush with the Enemy by Michael Healy

A Brush with the Enemy by Michael Healy

Father was a Military Man

Who hailed from North of the Border

Smart in his kilt, hat and Uniform

He would play his bagpipes as his team performed

A Pipe Major in the Black Watch, and proud.

Sadly the flames of World War II were loud

And he and his bagpipes had to part.

 

As war was declared he was promoted and transferred,

In charge of a battery of anti-aircraft guns, men, and kit,

Posted to London, in the middle of the Blitz,

A busy time for all, with he and his men often under attack.

Transferred again, to the Liverpool docks, they were glad to be back.

 

After so many firings the guns were cleaned

With a brush being pushed down the barrel

During one such cleaning the Germans attacked,

The orders were given for the guns to fire back.

 

After the action was over, one brush was found to be missing.

In later life my father would muse, what must the Germans have thought?

When a brush flew past from below, as those British Soldiers fought.

Despite their attempts to sweep the sky,

the guns were attacked and it seemed he might die.

 

The rest of the story as life carried on, is really quite happy and bright.

Transferred to hospital, over many months, he began to regain his light.

With the care of the doctors, and the wiles of the nurses, he started to notice their smiles,

One in particular, her name was Nurse Margery, her smile caught onto Dads’ heart,

 

War over, in February ’47, they were happily married,

March ‘48, I finished their story, as that wee bairn she had carried.

Pleased to report, my occasional slumbers, were accompanied by the skirl of his pipes.

Dad would recall his stories, behind the smoke of his pipe, and as I listened I often wondered if that brush ever did come to light?

AN EMPTY STAGE by Pete Brammer

AN EMPTY STAGE by Pete Brammer

As I drifted off, into a sleep,

A sleep so full of woe,

There came to me the legends lost,

In one almighty show.

 

Richie Valens bounced on stage,

With ‘La Samba’ in our ears,

But then he sang his ‘Donna’

That brought us all to tears.

Looking on was Buddy,

With an arm ’round Peggy Sue,

While Big ‘0’ stood quite motionless,

Singing ‘Blue Bayou’

A roar went up for Elvis,

A song from Gl Blues,

Gyrating hips and hair well greased,

And sporting blue suede shoes.

 

A youthful Eddie Cochran,

With that cheeky boyish face,

Sang about ‘Old Shorty’

And how he won the race.

 

Alma Cogan swept on stage,

In a gorgeous flowing gown,

With the glitter of the sequins,

Always the talk of the town.

 

Before the intermission,

Up stepped Nat King Cole,

His voice so smooth and silky,

Though he suffered bless his soul.

 

His chest and throat were very sore,

Yet his voice it never faulted,

Though it’s been so long ago,

Its quality hasn’t altered.

 

How great it was to meet these stars,

Like Dickie Valentine,

To hear him sing with Matt Munro,

So rich like vintage wine.

 

The Kiss Curl on his forehead,

Though a little greyer now,

Bill Haley showed us how to rock,

With sweat across his brow.

 

He rocked and rocked around the clock,

As we rose to fever pitch,

Gentleman Jim was next on stage,

His velvet voice so rich.

 

For me the biggest treat of all,

Being such an ardent fan,

Was Buddy’s ‘Raining in my Heart’

And ‘Dark Eyed Handsome Man’

 

Last on stage to end the show,

He’d been waiting in the wings,

Bobby Darrin so very smart,

With ‘Mack the Knife’ and ‘Things’

 

How could I let this chance go by,

Without a souvenir?

So I took myself a photograph,

In my eye a little tear.

 

The flash of light it woke me up,

As I lay there on my bed,

The realization hitting me,

For all those friends were dead.

 

Weeks later came a big surprise,

No bigger one, I’ll wage,

For when I picked my photo’s up,

On one, ‘An Empty Stage!’

 

ANOTHER STRONG LAD TO WORK THE MINE by Pete Brammer

ANOTHER STRONG LAD TO WORK THE MINE

One cold and wet November morn,
In a drab pit village a boy was born,
The midwife said. “He looks just fine,
Another strong lad to work the mine”.

Leaving school at twelve years old,
When his pa was killed by a fall of coal,
He became a man at an early age,
But his belly went cold as he rode the cage.

He finished his shift with a body so sore,
So utterly tired from starting at four,
Falling to sleep at the table that night,
He was carried to bed the poor little mite.

As time went by he progressed to the face,
Along side men slowing down in the race,
Their faces drawn and aged before time,
Complexions so sallow and pitted with grime.

No son of his he did vow and declare,
Would work in the mine devoid of fresh air,
All day in water so putrid and smelly,
And crawling along like a snake on its belly.

The years left their mark as he reached middle age,
His union had fought for a good living wage,
All of his life he’d given of his best,
Now he was finished with dust on his chest.

Just as a man comes into his prime,
He was bent double and old before time,
Unable to walk far without fighting for breath,
Soon he’d have peace as he welcomed his death.

Reflecting on life he’d give but a sigh,
The nice things in life had all passed him by,
He came into the world against his will,
And was leaving disappointed.

Pete Brammer