Stories

the stories that need telling fall clumsily

on trails where tributes lie in winding lanes

on cobbled streets of needle-darkened alleys

in shop doorways where sad stories lurch in pain

the stories to remember stumble onwards

resistance plied while truths they serve to give

truths that need the hearing and the telling

giving voice to thoughts of those who barely live


the stories that need telling cause much grieving

these stories they are mourned while others dance

on bloodied, bended knees scarred stories whimper

begging, fighting, pleading, one more chance

the stories we’ve forgotten haunt our dreamscapes

filling us with fear that those we love could be

a story on the corner there but for graces

someone’s child or parent, you or me


the stories sprawled on walls are unenchanting

apoetic in their prose and permanence

these monuments that matter, disassembled

the humblest stories lost to prominence

unhinged of wing they travel like their namesake

foiled phoenix burnt to ashes must reform

soul stories scattered, littered, on rough pavements

barred temples to the place where freedom’s born


the stories in retelling at the tables

where gathered poets present and from past

conserve the memories among the negatives

cave paintings whitewashed over sketched in last

hid among the amulets and tombstones

walking tourist trails or calvary

wounded hearts still beating where they perish

amid stories where condemned fought to be free


a cross upon the cobbles falls embarrassed

that liberty was won by their blood spilled

to keep the stories living, rising ever

that changed the route by courage and by will

the stories that need telling need new focus

perspective in the telling here and now

to those who write the stories worth the telling

the fallen, inglorious, tell us how


their stories find a purpose in narration

where nations find their dignity and poise

old stories sung, retold, with hush and reverence

need new stories magnified by many with one voice

the stories of the rising and the fallen

the stories of the families who yet weep

the stories of the falling mid the rising

such stories thus preserved that we may sleep

Thoughts on ‘The Book Thief’

He came and stole the words she loved and hated,

In his pocket, while he gathered up the souls,

Confounded, over- under- estimation,

Humans with their fatal faulted goals.


Concentrating Nazis, all those people,

Compliant, in vicissitudes, they blamed,

As Death patrolled a world of colour flaming,

Where only very few were ever named.


The nameless marched and shuffled, sockets sunken,

Scarce of bread, more scarce of liberty,

Scapegoats for moustached aspirations,

Pillar-scourged by Christ’s humanity.


Muslims now, where Jews, or maybe black folk,

Gays perhaps or aborigines,

Red-skinned, each condemned in one stroke,

Pointed fingers back at you and me.


Death patrolled and wondered while he captured

Souls before they fell, he held them tight,

Whatever had they done and why the rapture

Of others he would meet one day or night.


Munchen times, the Dachaus and the ghettoes,

Golan Heights, Great Plains, upon our streets,

Look no further for the scythe or saviour,

Everyone we meet and how we greet.


Sickle thoughts while reading and to living,

One rush of air we’re gone, he passes on,

Steals our words, our actions, as deposits

Comes and goes, collects and moves along.


Banked eternally, all of our choices,

No choice for death, he does as he is told,

A Book Thief gifts her love, compassion,

Death carries secrets all should be foretold.

The Book Thief

 

 

Penny For Them

£     s     d

2    9    6

4    8    7

+ 5   6    4

—————

£12  4s  5d

—————-

Memory escapes slightly but I think that’s the way we used to do it.

Back in the pre-metric days of my primary school, 12 pennies made a shilling and 20 shillings made a pound.

By the time I reached my final year of primary school 100 pennies made a pound. And I became au fait with the decimal point.

The new metric coins were introduced and, gradually, through time the old coins were put to rest. It took years, with certain of the old coins of particular interest being traded, by those in the know, as having more worth than their face value depending on when it had been minted and whose face adorned the other side of tails.

An aunt of mine had a little book, listing those of worth in general circulation, and kept her eyes peeled, hoping to be lucky enough to come across one of the rarities.

Adults at that time, particularly the more aged, were forever heard to be arguing with shopkeepers, believing they were being diddled in their change.

And who could blame them?

One day they had been handing over a pound note to pay for goods costing a shilling and received nineteen shillings, or 228 pennies, in change. The next day, they handed over a pound and received, in change, with an apparently huge shortfall, 95 pence.

Even I felt diddled handing over my thrupenny bit for sweets

A local shop kept two trays of sweets under the counter, one holding sweets costing a penny and the other for goodies valued at a hal’penny.

For my thrupenny bit I could purchase three penny sweets or six hal’penny sweets or any combination amounting to the same. And I could work it out.

Then, one day, those self-same trays allowed me to take one sweet from the penny tray and one from the halfpenny tray or three from the latter. I argued like an old woman despite being about 11. Something was far wrong.

Or so it seemed.

The transition between old money and new felt like we were all being diddled. God bless the shopkeepers. They must have had their work cut out too, trying to pacify irate customers while working out the conversion with the handy list sellotaped near the till and, at the same time, ensure they weren’t going to be pulled up at the end of the day, by their employer, for fiddling.

I’m no expert on economics. Far from it, in fact. When my brother was studying economics as part of his university course in Business Admin, I recollect a conversation we had as he tried to explain the finer points of supply and demand, inflation and deflation and the different schools of thought on the subject. He lost me.

Back then, and even now, I find it difficult to comprehend that price, value and worth are not necessarily synonymous. Perhaps, rarely so.

The value of water is priceless.

The value of a superstar, priceless also, apparently.

The respective worth of each, leagues apart, in life stakes.

The price? I pay very little attention to the cost to clubs when footballers change hands and contracts are negotiated, except perhaps to note the ridiculous sums paid to kick a ball about in the hopes of improving team chances of winning some trophy. I listen, in disbelief, when sums quoted translate to millions in any currency.

I do realise that my lack of interest in football colours my judgement. But, I also wonder at the economics of such transactions when clubs find themselves going to the wall, pass on the cost to supporters and are forever on the lookout for rich investors to save the day and creative accountants to cook the books.

Those interested in football will follow these transactions closely, pay the subsidy at the gates if they can afford to and consider the player worth the cost if a trophy of indeterminate intrinsic worth is brought home to be displayed with pride in a room few will have access to.

Their choice. Doesn’t affect me at all.

Except.

When the perceived worth of something or someone is based on only one factor, there’s something wrong in the state of play.

Yesterday I read a post outlining what the government of Puerto Rico should be obliged to do in order to meet their debts.

In essence, deprive the nation of easy access to water. Among other austerity measures that will hurt the populace.

Comparisons were made to the situation in Greece.

Got debt, must pay.

Somehow, must pay.

You owe, must pay.

Mismanaged economy, must pay.

It strikes me that people don’t change the currency. People don’t create monetary policy. People don’t even understand how economics works. People are guided by those who profess to know and trust that those in the know, those governing on their behalf, are actually doing just that.

People deal with smaller sums. People take what they’re given for their apparent worth and hope that they can balance their own books. Surely, we can trust the financial institutions and associated government bodies and financiers to do their jobs. They’re paid enough to do so.

Yeah, right.

I listen to figures being bandied about, trillions for Trident, billions for welfare, gazillions lost in tax default.

I understand money management on a household scale although often wonder where it all goes. Then I look at the books and note what I’m paying for this and that, remark on the changes in price of milk and bread and the rising cost of insurance. And try to balance the books without diddling anyone.

It seems that some of the economists don’t understand how economics works.

Someone, some many someones, somewhere, scribble some figures on the back of an envelope, flash the possibilities and gamble with the health and wealth of a nation. Different schools of economic thought are used to play risk. Priorities are weighed by different parties. Unrealistic goals and targets are outlined and bankrupted.

And still we allow them to mis/manage our countries. It is the trust of people that has been bankrupted while those who play the game also run the shop and set the prices. We don’t determine the currency and fiddle the exchange rate, although we are guilty of allowing value to be set by others. We are culpable in a system that dehumanises suffering based on accounts and capitalises on effort while penalising poverty.

The people, meanwhile, take their thruppeny bit to the store and can’t figure out why they’re being penalised, why what was affordable and available yesterday has become a luxury item.

Luxury is relative.

Water is not a luxury.

Ordinary people do have value.

The price they are being expected to pay is not worth it.

I can count in old money, I can count in new. Imperial, decimal. It all amounts to the same thing if someone else determines the exchange rate and sets intrinsic worth.

That handy conversion table at the till now lists the price of life against the coin.

Perhaps it always has and those who have counted the cost have been unheard except through revolution or appeals made to the charity of those relatively better off. Who can resist such appeals, even while knowing that sometimes the cause of dire circumstances is not natural disaster but the corruption or mismanagement of a country by those who want their own trophy at any cost?

One thing economists/governments don’t appear to take account of, where maybe they did in the past, is that people will put up with a lot, a really huge amount, an enormous quantity of being diddled, of suffering hardship, of paying the toll at the gate of the game others control, so long as basic requirements are met.

At the most basic, is water and the air we breathe. How much longer before oxygen tanks are issued with a price tag?

mad-hatter-1

Who runs the countries?

Penny for your thoughts?

Quirinus

Go quietly now,

rest

on ancient hill,

oaken spear

by side,

duality still.

 

Go gently now,

God and man

divine,

temple to

empire,

fruits of Sabine.

 

Go wisely now,

from state

to ruin,

once seven hills

from lupine

bloomed.

 

Seek counsel now,

imperious

oblations,

no mastery,

twinned stars

guide nations.

 

Go bravely now,

new knowledge

understand,

with hope we sow

wonders from

godly hands.

Battle Of The Sexes? Let’s Get Serious.

I wrote a poem yesterday. A Feeling. What’s new? Well, one of the comments on my poem for starters.

‘Your post is all about him. What about her? Sorry, I am very angry at the ‘so called’ brotherhood of hu-man-ity. Bye.’

I’ll attempt to address this without seeming patronising but I sincerely struggle with anyone’s objection to the use of certain words. There are 152 words in this poem. Five of them may be perceived as referring to gender if wished.

‘His’ references a phoenix. Used as a metaphor.  Three times ‘his’ was used.

‘Humanity’ or’ brotherhood’ to describe the fellowship or unity of homo sapiens as a species.

I have long since passed the need to be politically correct in my use of sex defining pronouns and refuse to write poems that must refer to he/she, him/her etc. And I use other words as I see fit.

My first loyalty is to Spirit that I believe we all are. Next to part of a species – human beings. That is what we are called. Lastly, but no less importantly, to my sex. I am a woman and proud of it but I do not need to prefix every point I make with politically correct lexicon that seeks to subvert common understanding.

‘Hu-person-ity’ would just be ridiculous. ‘People’ did not say what I wanted it to say. ‘Personhood’ would be almost equally ridiculous. I embrace my humanity. And can find no better word to elicit the understanding that is universal in its name.

The etymology and definition of words are there to be researched and understood in their fullest context. Should separatism be seen in words, there is more likelihood that the perception is born of subjective analysis by the reader than overt or subversive intention by the author.

If I saw a man on the street in need of help- and I do mean a man here, one with a penis – would I be less likely to come to that person’s aid than if I saw a woman lying in the same need? Woman as in, ‘I have a vagina’. Of course not. Or is that just me? Are there those whose humanity – compassion, fellowship, charity, mercy – is governed by the sex of a person? Please tell me this is not true. That the perception of humanity is gender defined.

When I say ‘Man’ or ‘man’ in general terms it ought to be obvious to anyone that the reference is to humanity, people, homo sapiens. Give me a better word.

I am aware that in some parts of the world there is an ongoing battle with equality between the sexes in many ways. The struggle continues and I support equality and justice. I fight for equality and justice. For people. All people. Regardless of sex. Colour. Creed. Nationality.

I’ve lived for 53 years now. It does not take even a fraction of that time to come to the conclusion I came to as a very young woman – maybe in my late teens- that those who are enlightened to justice and equality have no need to embark on arguments that belittle common sense.

I accept ‘chairperson’ because it works as a replacement for ‘chairman’. One or two others do too. I can’t even be arsed trying to think of which ones. Seriously, it is beneath me.

When men seek to define women in derogatory ways by using words like slut, whore, bitch, etc. yes I object for there is no real equivalent in speaking of the actions of men unless we start to use, man-slut, man-whore.

There are men and women of goodness just as there are men and women of evil intent. There are men who recognise equality and justice for all just as there are women. To argue otherwise negates half of society and relegates that half to something less than human.

To denegrate the sense of women by entering into nonsensical word changes for the sake of political correctness makes me hang my head in shame. We, as women, are better than that surely. Have more sense than that. Surely?

The same is true for many other forms of politically correct address and simply makes a nonsense of well-reasoned arguments. If the intention is to slur by words then certainly argue your case. But, how often is that the case?

I think I am correct in saying that the USA has become more prone to this type of p.c. nonsense. Correct me if I’m wrong. If you’re bald then you’re bald. ‘Follicly challenged.’ Don’t make me laugh. ‘Vertically challenged?’ You’re short. So what?

There is one human species. There are battles raging among nations. There are people fighting the world over for justice and equality in the name of right and truth.

Let’s stick to the important stuff and stop sweating the trivia. Please. In the name of common sense. And if you want to be taken seriously.

My answer to the commenter was:-

‘I am sorry you feel that any reference to people in words that are universally recognised in meaning should somehow slur womankind. I do not.’

Preconceptions

Ah’m no’ hard.

Ah’m no’ even that tough.

Bit ye see, Ah come fae Glesca,

So that seems tae be enough,

To send some people scurrying

Right off their mark,

Terrified I’ll chib them,

Attack them in the dark.

Bit ye see, it’s jist an accent,

‘Cos ah come fae this place

Jist lik you’ve got wan,

Mibbe nicer. Bit still an accent.

An’ a face.

Ah could dae Irish fur ye,

That sounds awright.

Ah’ve always liked that yin,

‘Cos it disnae gie ye a fright.

Or mibbe the Highlands cos

They sing a wee song,

Makes ye want tae dance

As if ye belang.

Or ‘ow about ze French?

I ‘ope eet’s not too bad

Been a leetle while seence I practeesed

So eet might sound a trifle mad.

But ah’m no’ fae they places

Ah’m fae Glesca, awright?

An’ ma voice is jist a voice

Wi’ an accent that’s no’ too polite.

A helluva wie tae judge people though,

Lookin’ at faces an’

Listenin’ as if ye could know

Whit they’re aboot,

Like ye know them so well,

Rubbish that is,

A terrible wie tae foretell

A person’s character, their

Values, their worth.

Makin’ judgements ‘cos folk are different.

Who dis that kinda stuff?

Ah’m no’ hard, ah’m tellin’ ye,

Jist a Glesca lassie that’s aw.

Inherited my accent

Fae ma da an’ ma maw.

Bit they always tellt me,

No matter yer station,

‘mind yer as good

As the rest ae the nation.

A message ah learnt

When ah wis jist wee

No’ tae judge others

‘cos ae where they’re fae.