I REMEMBER by Pete Brammer

I REMEMBER

I remember what they said,

At the outbreak of the war,

‘It will be all over come Christmas’

Yet I can recall with such horror,

How our lads were slaughtered,

Thousands and thousands, en mass.

 

I remember signing on, with workmates,

All eager to do our bit.

“Your country needs you.” old Kitchener said.

I remember we proudly marched through town,

People cheered, waving Union flags,

For they could not envisage, most would end up dead.

 

I remember the years in sludgy trenches,

As we struggled, to keep our sanity,

Suffering trench foot, fleas and mites,

Waiting for the shout, “Over the top.”

With the accompanying shrilled whistles,

Instantly obeying, we set off to fight.

 

I remember too, mustard gas clouds,

Drifting across ‘No Man’s Land’

Donning the life saving gas masks,

As shells whistled over our heads,

All wondering where they would land,

To be followed, by deafening blasts.

 

I remember the mud, changing colour,

As it clung to out boots and putties,

A nerve tingling scarlet red,

Skin and bone flying everywhere,

With life blood from innocent lads,

Some wounded, but most of them dead.

 

I remember thinking, about my wife,

Upset, to be missing my child,

You see, I had walked away from the conflict,

Now I stand before the firing squad,

Their rifles, pointing at my heart,

Please God, forgive me…

Advertisements

Leave by Rachel Hilton

They had only been together for a matter of weeks when Cecil asked if Hayley would accompany him on a visit to his parents.  He wanted to introduce her to them and thought it would be a good idea to go for a weekend.  She wasn’t so enthusiastic and told him so.

“It’s too soon, we need to know each other better before we meet each other’s parents.”

“Nonsense, you’ll like my parents and they’ll like you.  They are so easy to get along with.”

He kept on and on at her and eventually she relented.  She didn’t want to go, it was more to shut him up than anything.

Hayley made sure she was busy at the weekends for a couple more weeks.  The car needed MOTing and a service one weekend, another she was going to the theatre with her girlfriends, and didn’t want him to spoil her plans.

Finally, she couldn’t put it off any longer.  She picked him up after work in Leeds on Friday evening and they drove over to Scarborough.  Well, she drove all the way, he pratted about with the radio throughout the journey.

Upon arrival, his Mum, Jean, gave Cecil a big hug and a peck on the cheek and then did the same to Hayley.  His Dad, Steve, was in the kitchen cooking tea but paused for a moment to come through and greet them both.  Both his parents were pleasant people.  They had a lovely house, set back from the road, with a winding driveway.

After they had finished eating Cecil and Jean had cleared the table. That done Steve announced they were all going to the pub for a few drinks and a chance to have a chat.  “Great” thought Hayley, considering she didn’t drink.  Anyway, she changed her clothes, cleaned her teeth, brushed her hair and she was ready to go.

The pub was not far so they walked.  It was rather busy when they arrived but they managed to snag the last available table.  Cecil and Steve went to the bar while Jean and Hayley sat chatting.  Hayley had already said she was drinking lemonade to Cecil, as she didn’t like alcohol, so she didn’t think there would be any problem.

The men returned with the drinks and soon everyone was laughing, joking and generally enjoying themselves.  Hayley noticed the lemonade tasted slightly different to usual, and mention this, but Cecil said it was because it was draught and she usually drank the more expensive bottled version.

She tried to think no more of it, but she did slow down drinking as she wasn’t too keen on it.  

On the walk back to the house, Hayley felt a little peculiar.  She put it down to feeling tired as she’d had a long, busy day before driving to Scarborough.  When they arrived back at the house, she went up to her room to take her shoes off and sat on the bed for a moment.  She let her bag drop gently to the floor.

There was a soft knock and Cecil popped his head round the door.  He looked at her and grinned.  “How are you feeling?” He asked.  “Just a bit tired.” She replied.  “No, actually, a lot tired.” She said, thinking about it.  “Why, how are you feeling?”

Cecil grinned all the more. “I feel fine, thank you. But then I’ve not been on the hard stuff.”  Hayley stared at him.  “What the hell are you talking about?” She asked.  “Well, you didn’t honestly think I could let you sit there all night supping lemonade, did you?  That’s no fun.”  He answered, laughing.

“What did you do Cecil?”  She asked.  “Oh, I just thought a little vodka would loosen you up, and it worked, didn’t it?  Don’t tell me you didn’t enjoy it, you were chatting to Mum and Dad without feeling nervous, weren’t you?”

She glared at him, picked her bag up and made to walk out of the room.  

“Where are you going?” He asked.  “To the bathroom.” Came the reply.  “I’m off downstairs then, Hales.  Come down when you are done.”  “Okay, I shall”.  With that Hayley left the room.  Cecil went downstairs to the kitchen, helped himself to another can from the fridge and went through to the living room, where his parents were.

“What do you think?”  He asked.  “Oh, she’s a lovely girl.” His Mum replied.  “Yes, she’s clever too.” Added his Dad. “Not your usual type, eh Son?”  Cecil frowned at his Dad, then saw him smiling.  He relaxed and smiled back.  

They all sat talking for a short while until Hayley entered the room.  The fIrst thing Cecil noticed, she had her overnight bag in her hand.  “What’s going on?” He asked, rising to his feet.  

“I’m leaving.  I’m sorry, Mr and Mrs Sewell, but I’ve telephoned my friend, Cally.  She lives about 10 miles away and she’s coming to pick me up.  Apparently I’ve been drinking, so I can’t drive, but I’ll come back in the morning early to collect my car and I’ll then be going home.”

“What do you mean?”  Asked Jean.  “I’ll leave Cecil here to explain, I’m going to go wait outside for Cally.  I would hate for her to miss the house.”  With that, Hayley turned round, left the room and let herself out the front door.  

Jean turned to Cecil, but he was already following Hayley outside.  “What the hell was that about?  A joke is a joke, but get yourself back in there and apologise to my Mum.  That was plain rude.”  “Oh, and shall I explain how plain irresponsible you are.  Spiking my drink, when I asked for plain lemonade.”  Emphasising the word ‘plain’ each time, she stood, staring at him, daring him to answer.

“Like I say, I’ll collect my car in the morning and go.”  Hayley was angry and it showed.  “How will I get home?”  He whined.  “I don’t know and right now, I don’t care”.  Hayley retorted.  “Please come back in, they’ll wonder what’s going on.”  Cecil persisted.  “If I come back in there, I will definitely tell them the truth and they won’t be wondering anymore!”  

At that point, a car headlights could be seen coming down the road.  It was Cally.  She pulled the car onto the driveway and Hayley started to walk over to her.  

“If you get in that car, you won’t see me again.” Threatened Cecil.  “Funny, I had exactly the same thought.  But it was more, ‘when’ I get in this car, you won’t see me again.  I’m leaving you Cecil!”

WRITING by Pete Brammer

Encouraging acrostic from Pete

WRITING
Words make sentences, a jewel,
R? The 3 R’s, so confusing at school.
Ink we had in ink wells.
Thesaurus gives alternate words.
Index what you have written.
Nouns are living things like kittens.
Grammar a system of writing rules.

So Retford Writers, just stay cool!

POET ON TRIAL by Barrie Purnell

POET ON TRIAL

I am a human by birth but am a poet by choice,
My poetry gives this artist’s abstraction a voice.
But now when I write of the beauty of stars in the sky
Or of the pain in the heart born of saying goodbye
They condemn my use of order, rhyme and repetition,
On the slippery foundation of perfidious opinion.
They say that I’m guilty but do they have proof,
They must know that I only ever wrote down the truth.
I have spent many hours just searching for beauty
As a poet I was surely just doing my duty.
You disciples of Elliot, you lovers of Ginsberg and Pound,
You have contempt for the past and for lyrical sound.
You are literature zealots, who seek to destroy,
All those past compositions that many others enjoy.
You blame me for exposing your pride and pretense,
My words are my weapons they are my only defense.
You put me on trial, but failed to get a conviction,
My ballads and sonnets were outside your courts’ jurisdiction.
You asked me was I guilty? You asked did I transgress
Against your perceived wisdom? My answer was yes.
You wrote me a confession which you asked me to sign,
Because I valued the truth, I was forced to decline.

You keepers of disrupted syntax and experimentation,
You killers of rhyme, you lovers of prose fragmentation,
You don’t like my words but even ideologues must see,
The fact I can write them is what it means to be free.
I think you’re pretentious, you think my work is absurd,
But I’ve only ever been trying to cast a tune down in words.
Trying to find hidden ideas that my mind has caught,
Releasing them from impenetrable thickets of thought
Maybe I could be wrong, and you may prove to be right,
That I’ve been ensnared by the very words that I write.
You say my poetry is obsolete, observing outmoded rules,
But I write for the believers and not for proselyte fools.
You subvert my intentions, punctuating all of my lines,
With meaningless phrases, as revenge for my crimes.
You have confiscated my Sonnets you are shredding them fast,
In your desperation to break all links with the past.
All of our previous beliefs you’ve overturned,
Disregarding all the earlier rules that we’ve learned.
We yearn for the poetry of Hardy, Longfellow and Poe,
And all those lyrical poems penned a long time ago.
But you crucified romantic tradition on Elliot’s cross,
Burying Coleridge, the Mariner and the Albatross.

We’re now emerging from your self-serving sententious gloom,
We have rolled that boulder away from the tomb.
With brains that are hardwired to rhyme and repetition
Lyrical poetry is written to enhance the human condition.
It survives in the remembered verses of a million songs
Your work lies in a void beyond recall, where it belongs.
I now write in secret my sonnets and verses,
That you say are traditional and therefore subversive.
You thought you had won but we were never defeated,
Those lines now rewritten which you had deleted.
You’re conforming non-conformists, loving your own reflection,
Our army is now growing through your disciple’s defection.
I have started a petition, I’ve got ten thousand names,
Very soon other poets will join in our campaign.
So now in the back rooms of backstreet cafes we lurk,
Still fighting the war against all your modernist work.
My disciples are gathering, they meet in the night,
They will soon be re-armed and ready to fight,
To fight for that poetry that sings to your soul,
Replacing all those rhythms and rhymes you Modernists stole.
I have gone underground, I am biding my time,
Waiting for the poetry elite to return to order and rhyme.

Star by Margaret Moreton

Star
by
Margaret Moreton

Once upon a time there were two, early teenage girls. They lived miles apart and never knew each other, though they had much in common. For them both, there was a stable family and equally they respected their elders. They were at that age which saw their awakening sexuality; involuntary blushes were not uncommon. They both accepted their school days and the lessons they absorbed there, though with varying degrees of interest or success. Naturally they longed for approbation.

For Kathy, this came one glorious summer day. She was called from her class and lauded as a master of her craft – she had written a verse or two about the wonder of the sky at night: the ethereal beauty of a new rising moon; the glorious clarity of a dark, cloudless sky, giving a backdrop to a whole galaxy of stars. Her teacher was impressed. He told her that her work had earned her a star. That star, a gold beauty, was fixed to her work. Star of wonder! It glistened; it reflected her exhilaration – approbation in deed. That star was the half-open door to a possible literary career. She returned to her seat on cloud nine. Her future suddenly seemed bright.

Image result for star

Her contemporary, Katarina, was awarded a star – a bright gold emblem. She too had a star which defined her future. Her star was awarded in the company of her family and friends, not because of any excellence in her work, simply because of who she was. It was emblazoned on the lapel of her coat, for all the world to see. He who demanded that it be there intended just that.

An aching train journey followed this award, which took her far into the country, away from what she knew and loved – all because of her star. Journey over, she stood with her family, and that reassured her somewhat. Soon, though, she had to leave her dad and her brothers and go with her mum for a shower. She was filthy and smelly after her long, long journey, so to her mind, that had to be good.

That was the last she knew – the Zyclon B did its work and so did the ovens. Her star had truly defined her future. Her Dad, focussing on the giant belching chimney, saw in fatherhood’s mind’s eye, her star taking its place among nature’s galaxies, that would shine there forever.

Once upon a time, no fairy tale this, all this happened: two stars; two messages; two outcomes.

What means a star?

Image result for star

NURSING by Fay Marie Morris

Fay’s response to the June Trigger ‘nurse’

NURSING

Nursing! Nursing is one of my worst nightmares, so I decided to start this piece by stating what a rubbish nurse I am. I simply hate needy, ill people and have very little sympathy, mainly because when I’m ill, sympathy is the last thing I want. What I do want is seclusion and normality. Normal normality not abnormal, cliched, pretentious normality and I don’t like the usual trite, rubbishy, well-rehearsed, overly compassionate stuff that some people love to trot out. I am not unfeeling, in fact I feel things quite strongly and I know how hard it is to say something original when you are facing someone in pain. Pain is a massive leveler with the ability to turn even the bravest, most tenacious person into a babbling, physical wreck although some people seem to get off on being ill, they can ramp it up, turn it off or back on, almost at will…but seriously, I don’t have time for illness.

I remember when my son Danny was about 10 and he’d had to write about what it was like when he was ill and these were his very words. “I try not to be ill because It’s better to be well at our house. My mum’s horrible when you’re ill, even my dad says so. All she says is get your shoulders back and stop whinging.”

I was at a parent/teacher evening when his form teacher felt she had to show me his essay. I should have been horrified, tried to defend my actions or at least have a go at dignifying myself…but I didn’t. Instead I told her that I agreed with every word and as far as I was concerned illness is a state of mind, for wimps only.

I have never been any good at pandering to or pampering and I simply hate feeling pressurised into indulging someone through their insecurities. My French sister in law with her permanently silver lined, soft edged, mushy romanticism says I’m hard and that’s fine by me because I know I am. The thought of me trying to be a tender-hearted, nurturing, caring soul makes me want to throw up…but… I can be if I want to be, although I admit it isn’t pretty.

Anyway, after I’d had my brush with the big C, I felt I needed to give something back and decided that a spot of volunteer work might just do the trick, so I checked some of my options.
1/ collecting money for charity… so not me.
2/ Helping the elderly or housebound with housework or gardening, but I hate cleaning and reckon people who like it spoil it for those of us who don’t.
3/ Hospital visitor or serving in the shop or tea trolley or news trolley or driving people to hospital appointments but hospitals leave me cold so they were all out.
4/ Looking after or walking pet dogs for the elderly…A massive, colossal NO!
My husband, who had been driving people to Royal Perth Hospital for a couple of years told me how desperate Swan Caring were for volunteers to help in the daycare centre, so, I went, just for a look and two days later found myself knocking on the locked doors of the Dementia/Alzheimer wing, where I was welcomed like some kind of Samaritan or saviour, when I knew I was neither.

With wide eyes and hunched shoulders I listened to all Bridget, the care co-coordinator said, but the health and safety stuff made it really heavy going and I wasn’t sure if it was for me. Veronica, the care-centre manager, could see how I felt and told me not to worry as I was there to aid the staff, chat and help with the clients and nothing more. So, for a while I would lay the lunch tables then clear them, load the dishwasher, then unload it, be a Bingo caller and a general dogsbody every Tuesday and sometimes Thursdays too. I quickly learnt the daily routine and the clients all seemed comfortable with me around. [They were always referred to as clients, never patients.]

I wrote an awful lot of poetry at this time, probably my most productive period and one day I told Veronica about it and she said maybe I could read one to the clients. I said I didn’t think they’d understand what I was on about, most people don’t, but maybe, after lunch, during their quiet afternoon time, as they sat snoozing in their chairs, it might be OK. It was something I could do to help, but in my own way and…it would allow me to give my creative juices a bit of an air.

One of my favourite clients was Daisy. Daisy was born in London and her Cockney accent was unmistakable even though she had lived in Australia all of her adult life. But, as her Alzheimers grew steadily worse, her accent seemed to get stronger and she became withdrawn and morose. She was a teenager during the blitz and sometimes it was like she was reliving every second of the horror she had lived through, especially when the International flights from nearby Perth airport were taking off. She’d rush outside and freak out, screaming to her mother that the planes were coming over again but she wasn’t going down the air raid shelter.

One of the best ways to calm things down before the other clients became too upset, was to try and take their minds off whatever troubled them and I clearly remember the day Veronica asked if they would like Fay to read one of her poems.

They immediately sat down and waited, eager for me to start, which threw me slightly as I wasn’t sure which one to actually do. I decided on my earliest poem and while I was reciting it, Daisy went quiet, listened intently and started to smile. When I had finished she asked if I would read it again because she really liked the bit about soft cool spring days and could remember when the woods were full of bluebells and cowslips. Veronica said it was OK because by now all the others were fast asleep.

PIONEER WOMEN WROTE.

Whenever I feel low, my thoughts seem to stray
back, several decades, to a flawless spring day.
Where bluebells sway gently, a carpet of blue
and pale yellow cowslips all dripping with dew.

But that was before I made a new home
in this country of contrasts where kangaroos roam.
So why am I often beset with the fears
of loss and homesickness which bring on the tears?

For I love Australia, and all her moods
from the withering droughts to the ‘wet’ when it floods
and wide open spaces that choke up my throat
with emotion and longing.

Pioneer women wrote-

of hardship and toil in the heat and the dust.
Of living on hope and existing on trust.
So, how did they manage to get through each day
while longing for England’s soft cool spring days?

That was my very first public poetry recital and I must say I enjoyed it enormously. It became a regular afternoon session, requested by the clients themselves. I think it was my voice droning on that lulled them to sleep, although they clearly looked forward to it, because straight after lunch they eagerly placed their chairs in a semi-circle around mine. Luckily, by then I had plenty of poems in my portfolio and although I am still under no illusions about my nursing prowess, I was valued by the staff and clients at Swan Caring because I enjoyed putting people to sleep… but in a nice way.

So, is that snoring I can hear…?