A World War 1 trench, not quite the Hyatt, Hilton or whatever, way beyond my experience.
I Hope Someone Remembers
Trenches could not be loved,
they were open tombs,
flooded, muddied, with
congealed wire garlands and
sodden timber treads,
and the stench of the living dead all round,
their sunken eyes testimony to
the glue of resignation and guilt.
Our feet blackened for love of country,
our minds already lost
in battles of their own,
Dante’s Inferno come to life,
with the sting of gas and metallic chatter,
always the thudding, crumping, shells
that shake our bones
and reshape our vision.
Our thoughts occasionally turn to
going home, could it be?
But that thought is scotched
as machine guns lace the air,
and the referee’s whistle calls play,
all the while the unrelenting cries
of death and pain rain down.
No more to hold a hand or taste her lips,
no more to cup her breast or hold her close,
what chance of laughter, to share life’s joys?
But then I dare not think of her,
such thoughts have no place here,
they could hold me in this tomb.
The whistle resounds,
my bayonet gleams,
a macabre accessory,
one I may yet wear.
up we go,
king and country,
I hope someone remembers us.
©Paul Vincent Cannon
Effigy – Word of the Day
Guy Fawkes effigy. If you remember 🙂 the gunpowder plot set for the 5th November, 1605 when parliament was due to be opened by James the 1st of England & 6th of Scotland, by a group of Catholics who wanted to end the persecution of Catholics in England. This was during the period of the Reformation in England and there were strict laws governing any expression of the Christian faith other than that authorised by parliament, and the Catholic Church was very hemmed in by regulation. The architect of the plot was Robert Catesby. The plot was foiled and Fawkes was captured. Under torture he named all the plotters. All were captured and sentenced to be hung drawn and quartered. Fawkes avoided this excruciating death by jumping from the ladder for the scaffold and broke his neck and died.
The parliament named November 5 as a National Day of Thanksgiving which morphed into a bonfire night, and later fireworks were added to round out the Gunpowder Plot aspect. Fawkes was never burned, though others at that time were, but bonfire night caught on nonetheless. The question in my mind is do people get what it was about, and do they understand the reason for the plot? Not only that, the pure barbarism to hang draw and quarter? I’m not one to support murder, but nor am I one to support state sanctioned torture or murder either.
Leap of Faith
How did it come to this?
That you would cease to breathe this day,
your body smashed and broken,
your heart and passion gone.
That you dreamed of freedom,
believed for better,
for rights held by others,
but not by you or yours.
You were squeezed for servitude,
under those who looked down on you.
A king was your hopeful prize,
your evening bulletin,
but in truth he was an effigy of ill,
and your surprise was sprung against you,
then the scaffolding was strung.
Yet you beat the plot against you,
and found your freedom at last,
as you left the ladder of doom.
Centuries would pass before
freedom came to yours,
now I see you everywhere,
not least on tindered heaps,
more in the masks of dissent,
where freedom is eroding,
and we must leap the ladder
of protest once again.
©Paul Vincent Cannon
Enthralling – Word of the Day
Last week we spent a couple of days on the wildflower run, and at Leda Reserve, apart from the stunning array of flowers I was enthralled with this gem as well, a gargoyle perched on a rock – can you see it too? This one was clearly sent to protect Leda.
La Gargouille, terror of Rouen,
you lost your head When Romanus made the sign,
and now you sit in judgement of your kin,
though, instead of fire, you spout water,
La Gargouille, protector of Rouen.
©Paul Vincent Cannon
Note: Gargoyles date back to ancient Egypt, but the term gargoyle comes from the dragon slaying story of c. 600 AD where the priest Romanus captures the Dragon – La Gargouille, which was terrorising the town of Rouen, and the villagers cut off its head and burn it at the stake. However the head wouldn’t burn, so instead they place Gargouille’s head on the church to ward off evil and warn other dragons to stay away.
Panoply – RDP
Read Your Maille
needing no one,
guarding every fibre of your being,
your body chained,
protected against the words
that might one day creep under your maille,
and steal your distance,
bring you close
and expose the wound of love
you cannot bear to feel.
©Paul Vincent Cannon
Note: Chainmail is derived from the French ‘Maille’ which is in turn derived from the Latin ‘Macula’ (meaning mesh or net). Chainmail is thought to have been invented by the Celts before the 5th century AD.
Exemplary – Word of the Day
Rachel Carson (1907 – 64) (Photo: post-gazette.com) Carson was a marine scientist whose most known public work was “Silent Spring” (1962), a clarion call for humanity to address their impact on nature. In particular, Silent Spring is an investigation into pesticides. Carson wrote: “They should not be called “insecticides” but “biocides.” Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, p. 189.
“We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem , they are not equally fair. The road we have long been travelling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road – the one less travelled by – offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.” Rachel Carson, Silent Spring p. 277.
Carson was an exemplar of both environmental awareness and activism as a scientist and writer.
The Clock Has Tocked
The old grandfather clock in the hallway is ticking,
but there’s no one to note the passing of the hour,
they’re everywhere else in this big old house,
in rooms of self,
halls of bustle,
where the carpets are dusty and threadbare,
the varnish no longer present to the wood,
and the paint so sallow.
Things should have been fixed long ago,
but our will wasn’t urgent to the task.
Grandad’s monocle popped when the quotes came in,
and we gave up,
preferring the pleasured, anaesthetised life.
Had we ventured to the hallway,
and listened closely,
we’d have known that the clock had tocked its last.
The eleventh hour cried to us,
but we mocked its melodrama,
and bargained that Chronos would let us slide,
and all the while our house is falling,
falling down upon us.
©Paul Vincent Cannon
Peddler – Word of the Day
Source: flickr.com A street peddler in Istanbul.
The smell of sulphur fills the air,
bell, book and candle won’t help you now,
the devil incarnate roams the streets,
seductively peddling false hope, old ways, more tax.
Been like that since the ancient of days laughed and said
“Let them try democracy.”
©Paul Vincent Cannon
Renegade – Word of the Day
Ani Pachen (1933 – 2002), better known as the Warrior Nun, a Tibetan freedom fighter. She was captured by the Chinese army in 1959 and held until 1981 – 21 years in prison, she was 48 yrs old. She continued to oppose Chinese occupation of Tibet and took part in rallies and protests, fleeing to India in 1989 because she was facing arrest yet again.
We apprehended futility and held it as our own,
never stopping to think of consequence.
Logic held no sway,
there was no song,
the soil of our hearts rooted no doctrine,
myths and legends were our truths.
We slept in the open and spoke in ravines,
ate haute cuisine from tins,
punished our fantasies and banished our doubts
as we passed through Falkirk, Culloden, Lexington,
and struggled at Eureka,
countered in Prague,
threw out shoes in Manila and turned orange in Kiev.
We played with protest,
shouldered riot and uprising,
captured yet not imprisoned,
we remained free spirits held by passion,
Our very breath was inviolate,
this was our victory,
to be present.
Zealous – Word of the Day
One person’s liberator is another persons dictator. The end of National Socialism in 1945 (well, temporary end) saw the liberating Soviet army take control of Eastern Europe. But the Soviet proved to be as unpalatable as the Nazis, and hence a number of attempted coups and uprisings, especially the one in Hungary 23 October – 10 November 1956, where a student protest turned into a people’s uprising. The students were indeed zealous for change, and their zeal inspired others to rise up with them. The uprising was sadly crushed by the overwhelming might of the Soviet army. October the 23 is now a national holiday in Hungary.
Spring Is In The Air
Khaki is not my colour,
I crave pastels, boldness, whites.
Steel grey is so depressing,
like never ending winter,
the threat of cold death,
Truth is everywhere, that’s how
Apparatchiks, whose fetid lies,
like open sewers,
Are a stench and a stain
on flesh and blood,
like bruises and broken bones
their words crush souls.
Your flags do not warm me,
they are but a noose,
a suicide note to history.
But we stand together
preferring death to misery,
no acquiescent autumn
rather, to be spring
to be fertile possibility.
So we wave at you and smile,
a smile your scowl cannot quell.
Our solitary prayer,
that your bullets will be poppies
and your tanks be doves.
That you will at last surrender,
not to us,
but to your true selves,
and kiss your distorted “I” goodbye.
Sensual – FOWC
Nadja Michael as Salome. There’s a lot of poetic licence used in the portrayal of Salome that simply isn’t evident in the historical and biblical texts. But it makes for great theatre. Salome the daughter of Herodias (formerly the wife of Philip the Tetrarch) who had left Philip for his brother Herod Antipas (which is what John the Baptist was making a fuss over, and in the end got him killed). There was one daughter from her marriage to Philip – Salome. Salome was invited to dance for her step father at court on his birthday. The dance is not described anywhere, and much modern interpretation is speculation. However, the fact that Herod promised on oath to to give Salome whatever she asked for because her dance was pleasing tells us that it was in the least alluring and sensual given his reaction.
You were huddled as the music began,
and slowly you unfolded
with such grace,
we held our breath.
You reached upwards,
your body ripe.
You swirled, dipped and turned,
your eyes wild,
The air was so thin,
we were breathless.