We met on the Greek island of Kythera ( pictured above) in June 2000, and returned, for the first time in 14 years, this June. It was magical when we met, and it (all) still is. On the same trip we met Hera, but that’s another story, maybe another poem. But for now, this is for Helen, who has my heart.
How did two decades
All but a year,
Filio laughed and hugged us, even cried,
The bamboo drifted in the soft breezed warmth
You and I, beside.
The taverna table laid up for two
Where once I waited
And the taxi ( thankfully)
never arrived, instead,
There was you.
As the wild thyme keened the air,
The kestrel plummeted
Geese hissed in a dust bowled olive grove
and the first cicadas of the summer began to drum.
Bees, drunk hummed on myrtle sipped nectar
The blue and yellow collided
Over Kapsali mountainside.
Near Mitata, the church tower split, stricken,
We walked a new path
Crunched ancient shells underfoot
Stressed from the strains of bygone volcanoes
Tiny flowers grasped life from thin soil
A goat danced, windwarded.
How graceful you were
As we spanned the unknown
Having walked the Englishman’s Bridge
Revisited a love story
On the island where love erupted,
Bloomed, prospered, sun soaked
No longer alone.
We wrapped it tight,
Made it home.
Now, needs must
That I guard the treasure.
We had a holiday in Crete a little while back. The sea and sky were as blue as can be. The greens were equally intense. The kingfisher combined all these colours. The sunsets bled into the sea.
Helen and I met on a Greek Island, Kythira, when she was teaching creative writing. I was one of her students…I came home with the First Prize.
Helen Carey, this one’s for you.
(Oh! And hats off to Homer too! And a muted apology to the writer of ‘Grease’)
IN CRETE WE DREAMED IN BLUE
But in Crete the leaves are not yet falling
And I’m bursting with life
Olive grove glad
In the land of the Iliad
We are here
Our 18th year
Greece, the landscape
Soaked in ancient Sage
Washed with Thyme
History beyond belief
And the nearly new
That’s me and you.
In our spring
Kythera was King
Oleander lit the way
Winding down dusted tracks to
The azure blue, Kapsali bay,
Hora above, gleaming alabaster white
In our autumnal , peacocked Crete
Kingfishers dripping jewels in flight
Across the Lake at Agir
Turtles stroke the tranquil waters at Koumas
Now, in the dream dented, honeyed night
My Cretan Queen whispers
“Greece is the word”
And I heard
And I heard
I celebrated my 55th birthday recently….there is a lot of horror and awfulness in the world. I don’t necessarily want to avoid contemplating it, but sometimes it is good – if you are fortunate enough to do so – to stand back and simply drink in the magic. That, for me, is life really – as the late, great Lou Reed would have it “Magic and Loss”.
I WATCHED IN WONDER, AS……
The clear blue sky was split by green leafed tree
I looked at the painting of the Cornish Belle that hangs in my office
We watched 2 crested grebe dipping, and a swan on the nest, from the sanctuary of our hotel balcony
We flew down into Treorchy, apparently arriving by runway, the car a magic carpet, splitting the mildly misted darkness of a November night
Eric Bibb, troubadour extraordinaire, cool hatted and sharply suited, took to the stage where his godfather once sang, for the delight of miners abounding
Lowri Evans and her band set down tunes in the Land of Song
And Leonard Cohen “danced Cardiff to the end of love” on and on
Prior to that, Bruce Springsteen rocked and swayed and sang, apparently never ending
I devoured my new Norman Rockwell birthday gift book and donned a brand new shirt, homage to the station wagon
The smoke rose frail and fronded above the Port Talbot factory smokestacks, curling upward, skylined cloud
Rainstorms sweetly savaged the still spring air
The dogs and I discovered a new path, abundant with bluebell and nettles, and a new bridge – uncrossable as yet, and “Fern Hill not accessible”, but the apology surely not necessary
The three of us were knocked out, side split by the Love Punch
And tonight it is the turn of Godzilla
I passed by London Bridge, Moorgate, Bank and Old Street, bento box lunch and a stroll in the sunshine
Not doing the Lambeth Walk, but been there now, Roots and Shoots and all
I watched Debbie Harry and Blondie – 40 years on
And saw the last ever episode of M.A.S.H. bleary eyed, watching Hawkeye
I went West once more
I drank coffee, black, sweet and strong – no palpitations
I made a bow to Sir John Betjeman’s statue
I took lunch in the Pleasure Garden, Bonnington Square,
Greece, Turkey, England, Wales – all duly represented there
We walked the woods, wreathed in wild garlic, lilac and columbine pinks
Saw a peacock – it’s tail fully fanned and luminescent – no cameras, but I am graced with a memory
I got a shy smile from a man begging
and earned a gap toothed grimace from a gypsy musician
I stayed at the new home of old friends and found fresh features in previously unexplored and ageing streets
Heard new music from Brazil and Canvey Island – smokey jazz and the dynamite explosion of rhythm and blues
The lime trees were resplendent and green gorged in the morning light
A smouldering sunset topped Dinas Head
My niece, still new and unexpected, gurgled and chimed over the Facetime pages and gave her newly homed father a smile, that unfolded in delighted stages
I began the journey through ‘Americanah’ already relishing these recommended pages
Derren Brown amazed, perplexed and transfixed us – maybe even sent us away mildly hypnotised
A new car growled and spat and bore us southwards
Sussex and Kent span by
I learned that maybe I liked Rudyard Kipling after all – Just So
A nuthatch joined our café table
Earlier a tortoise had blown in my ear and then raced off, as much as that is possible
Work went on and I was lucky to love it
I read the emerging story, the fourth instalment unfolding, the characters captivating, the humour intact
A first rate novelist burnishing her form, died in the wool talent, as a matter of fact
Today I watched my breath unfurl in the mid May morning air
Some time ago we were transfixed by the 2 horses in the field behind, wildly, joyfully galloping, ground breaking and tail streaming bannered
The cawl was good, the craick too
As 55 years gone by were remarked, cards, presents and abundant good wishes
A life graced by good fortune, great friendships, by hugs and by kisses
I have lived these last years, silver ringed and golden gated
Enriched and involved, connected , sated
I celebrated, oh, how I celebrated.
I was very pleased to be invited to join the Writer’s Blog Tour recently by my Twitter friends at Mirren Jones – please see www.mirrenjones.wordpress.com
The introduction on their blog tells you how this works ….”Welcome to the Diary of Mirren Jones – a new stop on the Writers’ Blog Tour. We hope you’ll enjoy your visit, and will go on to sample the blogs of other writers, highlighted below. We are part of a growing international community of writers, working to introduce each other’s blog to a wider audience. Christine Findlay, Chair of Bookmark Blair, (Blairgowrie Rattray and The Glens Book Festival) in Perthshire, Scotland invited us to take part. (see www.cfindlay.blogspot.com) We in turn have invited the writers Angela Jeffs (Scotland), Heidi Garrett (USA) and Marc Mordey (Wales).”
So, now it’s my turn and there are 4 questions for me to answer :
1. What am I working on? Well, if I ‘m truthful, not a lot just now! I have a new poem prepared for Mayday and am working on notes from a recent trip to Sussex and Kent , which provided lots of visual and mental stimulation. I have a small collection of poetry that my father produced and have some ideas for incorporating these into my next collection of poetry (but that’s going to be a while in the making I think.)
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? I think it is terribly hard to answer this question as it demands a degree of objectivity about one’s own poetic voice which I at least am unable to achieve! But I think it is fair for me to say that what I try to produce is poetry that documents my own day to day experience of life – and the many moods and nuances that entails – and that I like my poetry to be accessible.
3. Why do I write what I do? As a record for myself. As something to share with friends and family.Because I find it enjoyable, cathartic and stimulating. And because I can.
4. How does my writing process work? I seem to have 2 ways of producing a poem – either it just ‘pops out’ of my mind (and I find walks and train journeys to be particularly valuable in this respect) or sometimes they take months, even years to find their way out onto the page. I probably write more of the spontaneous variety than the latter. I try and keep a pocket size notebook about my person for the purpose of jottings, and occasionally (mostly on a walk) I use the voice memo function on the I phone to record a line or two, or a stray thought.
And finally, I want to introduce you to 3 friends whose work is wonderful – please visit their blogs to find out more. These talented folks will be offering their answers to the same 4 questions on Monday 12th May. And anything you can do to help us all share our words and ideas through your own networks would be much appreciated. Thank you.
Stewart Bartlam Having worked as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language for a number of years, followed by twenty years in the civil service, I took early retirement a couple of years ago. My time now is happily occupied by reading, listening to music, following sport, the pleasures of food and drink, and writing. I’ve tried my hand at novels, essays and short stories, but it’s poetry that has become my pivotal passion; one that I hope to share by means of this blog. BLOG : http://stewartstanzas.wordpress.com
Helen Carey Having spent time in various different parts of the world, Helen Carey now lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, in a beautiful location overlooking the Irish Sea. She has had a number of jobs and her varied experiences of working as a chalet girl, a waitress, a travel agent, an oil trader, a management consultant and in the British Army have all featured in one form or another in her books. She teaches Creative Writing at the University of Wales and is a Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund. Her aim is to entertain, and her sense of character, story structure, pace and humour all combine to create compelling, page-turning novels which attract fans from all over the world. BLOG : http://helencareybooks.wordpress.com
Gillian Mawsom Gillian has interviewed 450 Second World War evacuees. She has worked with the BBC on documentaries and develops workshops for schools and museums. Her first book ‘Guernsey Evacuees: The Forgotten Evacuees of the Second World War’ describes the evacuation of 17,000 civilians to England just before the German occupation of Guernsey. Her new book ‘Evacuees: Children’s Lives on the WW2 Home Front’ contains interviews with 100 evacuees who spent the war years in Britain. BLOG : http://whaleybridgewriter.blogspot.co.uk/
I recently (via the wonderful world of Twitter) got the opportunity to join in the Transworld publisher’s reading group/historical fiction challenge – namely, to read and review, three newly published books. The first one I chose was Cruel Crossing by Edward Stourton : an excellent read, so much so that I passed the book on immediately to Helen Carey, WW2 novelist. The review below represents our joint view of the book. Recommended reading.
Cruel Crossing purports to be about one of the routes across the Pyrenees from France used by refugees escaping from Hitler during the Second World War, but it is, in fact, about much more than that. Edward Stourton uses the individual stories of heroism, endurance and courage of certain individuals who crossed or attempted to cross from France into the relative safety of Spain via the ‘Chemin de la Liberté’, as it became known, to illustrate a much bigger picture – that of the extraordinary turmoil and cruelty rife in France as the Nazis tightened their grip Western Europe. The book explores not so much the details of cruel, gruelling, escapes across the treacherous Pyrenees but more the vicious cruelty, treachery and prejudice of people and regimes that made those escapes necessary.
The by-line of the book is ‘Escaping Hitler across the Pyrenees,’ but in fact some of the most revelatory parts of the book are the descriptions of the divisions among the French themselves, on the one hand the almost unbelievable cruelty both at an institutional and individual level and on the other the extraordinary courage and heroism of those helping and supporting the escape attempts.
Cruel Crossing is by no means definitive, nor does it claim to be, there were other escape routes both by land and by sea, in this area and elsewhere. But by focussing on just a few of the stories in that small corner of south-west France Edward Stourton gives us an insight into the horrors that were in store for Jews, shot-down Allied airmen, prisoners of war, secret agents, anti-fascists, liberals, communists, and countless others who just happened to find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time in this and in other parts of Europe, and indeed the world.
It is a compelling read, Edward Stourton has chosen his stories well, individually they are exciting, shocking, tragic and heart warming. He handles his material with sympathy and compassion. His descriptions of the pilgrims on the annual treks of remembrance are poignant, reminding us that this period of history is gradually edging out of living memory. The reader is left with a sense of bewilderment that human beings are capable of such extremes of behaviour, and a profound sense of gratitude for our current freedoms.
It’s all about –
PHOTOGRAPHY – I want to share images , from day to day life, work (and other) travels, sometimes landscapes, sometimes people or animals, and also quirky little things, odd angles, that catch my eye, and might please yours? More of these can be found on our website at http://www.thestudioatpenrallt.co.uk
HELEN CAREY’S BOOKS – And finally, I want to direct you towards the work of my favourite writer, my wife Helen Carey, because, if you like what I write – you’ll LOVE what she writes! see Helen’s page here on this blog.
So, here it is, The Marcist Agenda – please read on, hope you will enjoy and be stimulated by what you see and I would very much like to hear back from you on what you read.
Faster than a herd of turtles! Cheers! Marc