New things

[Piglets at a farm in Cambridgeshire – image from Author’s collection

My first post for a long while, sorry for the wait but life has been very strange for many of us. I wish and hope you’re all safe and well and things look brighter in a Spring of hope. I wanted to bring you some more of my own work, both in the hope of entertaining you but also to inspire me to write more.

I still regular post on Twitter ( @lostperci if you’re interested ) but I’ve neglected the creation of longer pieces for a while. Here’s three of the newer ones I did write together with some photos from my own collection around the theme of new things, enjoy!

Ice

The puddle’s frozen over
right to the bottom, though
now it’s covered with snow

Lost in a white landscape
but it’s there, underneath
a white blanket, safe and well

Ice under snow, waiting
frozen, maybe in time too
patient expecting a thaw, sometime

The birds used to come and drink
sometimes, take a bath
fluttering feathers, splashing

A toddler in wellies might run
just to jump in the middle
for the fun of the noise and spray

Does it remember? when the ice
thaws again? Can it dream
those feathers, those feet?

Be well puddle, under the snow,
come back when you feel
the world is once again ready.

G Proctor

[The new tea caddy spoon I treated myself to! – image from Author’s collection]

There’s a couple of poems next that look at sadness. It happens sometimes that what you feel resonates with others or vice versa. There’s also a ‘preachy’ element here because I dislike people who being told to hide their emotions, cover up, be strong. It’s important to acknowledge what you’re feeling. Covering up or bottling up are both bad for your mental health. Those feelings come for a reason.

Cry

A night for tears, not in a bad way though
just a time to open the gates, let the
water flow before it breeches the dam.

Safety valve for the heart, release
from the pressures that life presses 
down on us. To let the grief free.

Music, of memories, of nostalgia
of times spent laughing, loving
crying even, those tunes, songs

Let it go, let it pass, don’t hold it
in the heart to darken the future
make time, to let yourself heal

cry, sob, weep, be the lake, that
let’s the water flow away, that you
might live and love again, without
regret, without the dark, free.

G Proctor

[ My Brother’s Labrador as a new puppy, sat in a flowerpot (don’t ask!) – image from Author’s collection ]

Dam it

it’s just
that sometimes
I do find I can’t
speak about the
things I really want
to say to you, I wall
up the feelings, pent
them behind a huge dam
simply because, there’s so
many cracks in the dam and 
I feel, if I let go the words I really 
want to say, the rush will start, the
cracks will widen and the dam give way
flooding the land downstream of the great
lake of emotions I’ve shored up against due
to not dealing with my past when some others
took great pickaxes to my heart and made the holes
that widened and widened to the point where I don’t feel
like
I
control
the 
flood
anymore
and
it 
could
all 
flood 
out
and 
drown 
anything
you 
might 
feel
in
a 
rush

Seeking skilled engineer, to repair damage of years
must be talented and gentle and smile a lot

G Proctor

[New development – Salford waterfront – image from Author’s collection ]

Audio files of the poems: Ice, Cry and Dam it

Ice audio
Cry audio
Dam it audio

Autumn – naturally

[Yorkshire Arboretum – photo by Matt Cornock – image from: https://yorkshiretimes.co.uk/article/Spectacular-Autumn-Colour-At-Yorkshire-Arboretum ]

Back to normal for this month’s presentation. Some classic poems, some of my work and some images. This month’s theme is Autumn, naturally. I love the changing of the seasons in the UK. Autumn often begins with late sunshine as the plums, cherries and various berries all ripen. Spring blossom leads to Autumn nuts. Animals are active, storing up food or preparing hibernation quarters. The birds begin to look to the South and the long migration. We’ll start this time with a poem by John Clare, a poet close to the land and to nature. Born in 1793 in the village if Helpston, near Peterborough, Clare was the son of a farm labourer. He is now recognised as one of the foremost poets, particularly on nature subjects. This poem is a hymn to Autumn with lovely images: 

Autumn

I love the fitful gusts that shakes
 The casement all the day
And from the mossy elm tree takes
 The faded leaf away
Twirling it by the window-pane
With thousand others down the lane

I love to see the shaking twig
 Dance till the shut of eve
The sparrow on the cottage rig
 Whose chirp would make believe
That spring was just now flirting by
In summers lap with flowers to lie
I love to see the cottage smoke
 Curl upwards through the naked trees
The pigeons nestled round the coat
 On dull November days like these
The cock upon the dung-hill crowing
The mill sails on the heath a-going
The feather from the ravens breast
 Falls on the stubble lea
The acorns near the old crows nest
 Fall pattering down the tree
The grunting pigs that wait for all
Scramble and hurry where they fall

John Clare, 1993 – 1864

[Autumn trees outside Bolton Town Hall – picture from the author’s collection]

My own pieces are from my Twitter poetry again so no titles, uses up characters! The first piece was inspired by looking out of the window one morning a few weeks back and seeing the first mist of Autumn. Autumn mists are magical for me, they usually burn off by midday and often herald fine, clear, crisp days. Older readers may catch the ‘frolicking’ reference from a famous song!

Autumn mists have arrived
bringing a song of change
time for frolicking, last dances
before the ice comes again
and we huddle together
to watch the snowfall
and write poems of warmth
Autumn mists have arrived

Glen Proctor

I picked up fallen leaves
counting them as I did
I laid them on the grass
spelling your name
but a bird, a magpie I think?
picked one leaf up
and flew away
I found another soon enough
but I like to think
he gave that other leaf
to a wandering albatross
who flew with it
the many miles to you

Glen Proctor

[Autumn evening sky – picture from the Author’s collection]

We’ll finish with one of the most famous English poets, William Blake, famed for visionary and fantastic pieces like ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘Tiger, Tiger’, Blake also wrote about the beauty of nature and this piece is a lovely evocation of Autumn:

To Autumn

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stain’d
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may’st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.

‘The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust’ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather’d clouds strew flowers round her head.

‘The spirits of the air live in the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.’
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat,
Then rose, girded himself, and o’er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.

William Blake, 1757 – 1827

[Squirrel visiting my back garden for Autumn food stores – image from the Author’s collection]

Nature – in my own words

[Green is for Gaia, Mother Earth by Susannah McKinnie – image at: https://medium.com/appalachian-tales-and-trails/green-is-for-gaia-bed80a7835f2 ]

This entry revisits the theme of nature which I’ve covered before. I’m just presenting  my own work again though, mainly from Twitter. I’ve been thinking a lot about nature lately. I’m an old hippy with Wiccan leanings so nature has always been a big part of my life. I love the changing of the seasons here in the UK, the changing face of nature in all her glory. The people I connect with on Twitter are mainly interested in love so combining love poems and nature seems to be the way to go! I hope you enjoy these offerings. I’ve included a few more ‘three word poems’ again, from the lovely Jami’s prompts. It’s good for the brain to think of three words which can evoke an image, thought or dream.

Tangled in the trees
our hero struggles
in the thorns and branches
but he glimpses
a golden line of verse
and understanding,
he follows the thread
as the words flow
until he reaches
the calm center
where she sits, beloved
of the Green Mother
child of the trees
ever seeking love

Poem of light <->

[Morning light at Hall-i’th-Wood Railway station – image from author’s collection]

Walking on the shore
the winds carried your heart
to me, over the seas
so I wrote a poem, of
love and passion, 
heart and soul
music and words
and folded a paper boat
from the paper,
set it sailing
on the wide ocean
with a prayer
to reach you safely
this poem is just for you

[Paper boat – Image from: https://bjsorrilla.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/as-brave-as-the-paper-boat/ ]

A bird flew in
and stayed.
I thought
for a while
it couldn’t get out
but the way
was clear, it
wanted to stay
inside my heart
and sing it’s name.
It’s you, isn’t it?
Welcome to my heart,
please stay.

Soul storm reaching

[Wildflowers left near a bus stop – image from author’s collection]

In the infinite streams of time
a poet once wrote verses so lovely 
that they took form, became real
and she walked amongst us
beautiful as a sunrise
gentle as cherry blossom
kind, caring, loving and full
of absolute grace
an angel descended
a spirit of the heart
but because her soul
was poetry, she creates
wonderful verse, moving lines
words that bring dreams
and she lives amongst us
still gives us the gift
of her soul music

Love in moonlight

[Cherry blosson – image from: https://www.thesoapkitchen.co.uk/cherry-blossom-allergen-free-vaf2217-23pmb ]

Audio files of all the poems follow:

Love Songs

[Beach love, image from: https://www.e-counseling.com/relationships/what-are-the-7-types-of-love/ ]

This month’s blog entry was inspired by two things. A lovely friend suggested it was time I did another compendium of my own work. I have also been writing poetry on Twitter, mostly around the theme of love. The Twitter poetry community is quite vibrant and active, well worth investigating. There is also Twitter #hashtag (a way of searching out subjects on social media) which is for people to create poems of just three words. Search for #3wordspoet if you would like to read some of  the wonderful creations. I’ve scattered conventional poems and three word poems through this blog. The writing community on Twitter includes fiction, non-fiction, poetry and drame, well worth a look! The poems I’ve included don’t have titles (the character limits on Twitter encourage brevity). We’ll start with a #3wordspoet line followed by a more conventional piece to give you the idea.

Willing the conclusion

You gently wrap
the music of heaven 
in the words of your
poetry, choosing the
part that fits
the melody
and the music that 
you create with your
own fair hand
plays the strings 
of my heart
in a way, no one
else ever could or has

Chasing water falls

The sound comes
as the air changes
then the rhythm 
the pattern as
sound beats
on the open
reach a hand out
and the drops come
welcome as a lover’s touch
soft as as a fairy kiss
watch the fall
listen to the music
of rain as it falls
smell the smell of
after the rain
blessed rain

Blessing of rain <->

[Love song, image from: https://www.queens-theatre.co.uk/love-song/ ]

If I owned a river
I’d set it by some trees
maybe a mountain
at the back
I’d make a waterfall
so that the music 
of the water
could serenade you
and cool your legs
We could picnic
and maybe hold hands
and watch the stars 
as they appear
My river would be
my song to you

Silent song playing

If I wait for you
it’s not that I lurk
if I write for you
it’s not to seek attention
if I play and sing for you
it’s not to show my prowess
it’s that when you smile
or laugh
or sing
or speak
my heart skips a beat
and the world 
is golden once more

If you stumble
a hand will catch you
weary, a shoulder 
to lay your head on
sadness and lips will kiss
the tears away
cold, and a cloak will wrap you
in loving embrace
hungry and ambrosia
will be there for you
lost and a light will guide you
all this, yours, for a smile

You dream I <->

I walked to the water
until my feet were covered
waves lapping at my skin
from the emotions you poured
into the ocean with your
thoughts. Surf, like passion
bubbling and breaking
around me, kisses of fleeting
touch, touch of caring hand,
hands holding mine,
across seas untold.

Loves butterfly touch

[Butterfly touch, image from: https://www.birdsandblooms.com/gardening/attracting-butterflies/attracting-butterflies-butterfly-id-cheat-sheet/ ]

When the day
piles on my soul
when the darkness comes
when hope is furthest 
from my stretching hand
I listen to your voice
speaking verses of love
and a rainbow parts
the clouds over my heart
to let the light back
Bless you always
for being
for caring
for sharing
for love

Of all the colours
of the whole creation
your eyes are made
of the one I love most
I dream of them
I live in hope
of them
looking into mine
with the passion
of stars

I heard your voice
first time, this time
and the vision came
in an instant, your eyes
your lips, your touch,
ears hear only you
skin feels only you
and the stars turn
only at your wish
heat and passion
emotion and dream
you fill all my senses
Speak your verses again,
Please?

Touched by her

[ Valentine songs, image from: https://www.musicnotes.com/now/omg/100-love-songs-for-valentines-day/ ]

I found our dream place
A waterfall and stream
to give us music
Green all around, for peace
Trees that wave, in time with hearts
A mossy mound, to be our couch
Wild animals, that come
to share the glow
of you that ignites me
The place in my dream
where I touch your face,
in love.

Feelings are awoken

Now, open your eyes
hold it gently, it’s my heart
I give it to you, for your song

[The last piece was inspired by this lovely artwork by the wonderful @PhaedraPeer]

I hope you enjoyed some of this collection. Please do check out Twitter as a source of poetry, some excellent work appearing there. You can find me there at @lostperci too! I’ve divided the audio versions of the poems into five parts so as not to overload anyone!

Visions

[ William Blake, Visions of the Daughters of Albion, image from: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/blake-plate-4-of-visions-of-the-daughters-of-albion-n03374 ]

Visions, dreams, messages from beyond. All have been fruitful subjects for poets and artists across the ages. Some of the most famous poems in the English language are concerned with dreams and visions. I’ve presented a small number here but there are many more. Our most well-known poets seem to want to tackle the subject of visions or the things they see in dreams. We’ll start with a new poet to me, the US writer Langston Hughes. Novelist, playwright, poet, social activist and journalist, Hughes was one of the first of the so-called ‘jazz poets’. This piece is more of a classic style though and very meaningful. Keep those dreams alive.

Dreams

Hold fast to dreams 
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Langston Hughes, 1902 – 1967

[What Dreams May Come by Ann Marie Bone, Image from: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/what-dreams-may-come-ann-marie-bone.html ]

I added an extra piece this month. I couldn’t have an entry on visions and dreams without the Nightingale. One of the most famous poems in the English Language. It’s a reasonably long piece so I have just included the first verse. Please, please, I implore you, go read the full piece though.

Ode to a nightingale

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains 
         My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk, 
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains 
         One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk: 
‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot, 
         But being too happy in thine happiness,— 
                That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees 
                        In some melodious plot 
         Of beechen green, and shadows numberless, 
                Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

John Keats, 1795 – 1821

[ Nightingale, image from – https://www.birdspot.co.uk/bird-identification/nightingale ]

My own poem this time was partly inspired by a famous song, hinted at in the first line. It was also written after reading some wonderful poems by the lovely Zaynab who writes and retweets startlingly  good poems on her Twitter account ( @Zaynab71990 ). This poem reflects the dreams I often have. I feel I may be a traveller in my blood (my Father and Uncle both served in the Royal and Merchant navies respectively and I’ve always loved the sea).

Eyes closed vision

Visions softly creeping,
as it told in the song,
on walls and in halls.
A journey, bus, train, feet
flying with my own wings.
It varies. Through the mountains,
by the sea, in the air.
A vision of journeys.
One thing is constant, you.
Travelling with you,
travelling to see you,
waving as you travel.
Hands held, arms around,
lips touching, head on shoulder.
Always, when I wake,
I smile. You’re real, in
visions. Dreamed one.

Glen Proctor

[Beautiful Dream by Pratibha Singh, image from: https://www.indiaart.com/Art-Marketplace/painting-details/2790/beautiful-dream ]
Spoken version of my poem

We’ll finish with a dream in a song. This is a very famous piece from an opera written in the late 1700’s early 1800’s. A song of a girl who dreams of better things but only if her love can be there too. Her love is more important than riches (as it should be).

The Gypsy Girl’s Dream

I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls,
With vassals and serfs at my side,
And of all who assembled within those walls,
That I was the hope and the pride.
I had riches too great to count, could boast
Of a high ancestral name;
But I also dreamt, which pleased me most,
That you lov’d me still the same…
That you lov’d me, you lov’d me still the same,
That you lov’d me, you lov’d me still the same.

I dreamt that suitors sought my hand;
That knights upon bended knee,
And with vows no maiden heart could withstand,
They pledg’d their faith to me;
And I dreamt that one of that noble host
Came forth my hand to claim.
But I also dreamt, which charmed me most,
That you lov’d me still the same…
That you lov’d me, you lov’d me still the same,
That you lov’d me, you lov’d me still the same.

Words by Alfred Dunn, 1796 – 1860

[Gypsy Woman by Ludmilla Gornichenko, image from: https://www.saatchiart.com/art/Painting-gypsy-woman/1086230/4226958/view ]

People

[Crowd of people in London – Image from: http://islingtontribune.com/article/islington-out-in-force-on-peoples-vote-march-but-no-local-mps]

A blog about people seems a broad topic. I have covered people-watching before but this entry seeks to present poems and art about people, rather than our watching of them. I start with a longer piece than I normally present, by a master writer. WB Yeats wrote words with power, with meaning, with emotion. He’s one of my favourite poets and I encourage people to read more. The things he wrote can be hard, difficult but the way he expresses them is as an artist of words.

The People

‘What have I earned for all that work,’ I said,
‘For all that I have done at my own charge?
The daily spite of this unmannerly town,
Where who has served the most is most defaned,
The reputation of his lifetime lost
Between the night and morning. I might have lived,
And you know well how great the longing has been,
Where every day my footfall Should have lit
In the green shadow of Ferrara wall;
Or climbed among the images of the past —
The unperturbed and courtly images —
Evening and morning, the steep street of Urbino
To where the Duchess and her people talked
The stately midnight through until they stood
In their great window looking at the dawn;
I might have had no friend that could not mix
Courtesy and passion into one like those
That saw the wicks grow yellow in the dawn;
I might have used the one substantial right
My trade allows: chosen my company,
And chosen what scenery had pleased me best.
Thereon my phoenix answered in reproof,
‘The drunkards, pilferers of public funds,
All the dishonest crowd I had driven away,
When my luck changed and they dared meet my face,
Crawled from obscurity, and set upon me
Those I had served and some that I had fed;
Yet never have I, now nor any time,

Complained of the people.’
All I could reply
Was: ‘You, that have not lived in thought but deed,
Can have the purity of a natural force,
But I, whose virtues are the definitions
Of the analytic mind, can neither close
The eye of the mind nor keep my tongue from speech.’
And yet, because my heart leaped at her words,
I was abashed, and now they come to mind
After nine years, I sink my head abashed.

William Butler Yeats, 1865 – 1939

[Village Politicians by Wilkie, image from: https://www.wikiart.org/en/david-wilkie/village-politicians ]

My own piece this time has appeared in this blog before but it was a long time ago. My excuse is that I didn’t record an audio reading of it. Besides, it fits the topic nicely and it’s one of my own poems that I actually like!

A Song in the Making
Vivid blue hair, with a red feather, jauntily tied
on the left. Holding, half a giant pair of scissors.
A scissor maybe? Red scissor with gnarled grips.
She looks around, searching, for a face? A look?
Maybe for the other half of the scissor?
She swings Doc Martined feet, as she seeks,
the pivot of her meaning. The hinge of all things.
Alone in a bus station pretending to be a rail station.
Waiting for a bus that’s pretending to be a train.
While electrification is done, the current takes precedence over us.
So she waits, with us, with blue hair, feather, boots and scissor.
Like a folk song, waiting to happen.

Glen Proctor

[Festival goer at Woodstock, image from: https://www.vogue.fr/fashion-culture/article/woodstock-at-51-22-vintage-photos-from-the-era-defining-festival ]

We’ll finish with a poem which is the mirror of mine. This piece is about how people see the author. Jenny Joseph was from Birmingham, UK and worked as a journalist for many years after studying English Literature. ‘Warning’ is one of the most popular poems in the UK. This is a manifesto for her, a defiance of convention and an expression of who she is. I love these words as a model for life.

Warning

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph, 1932 – 2018

[Ladies wearing purple, image from: https://activerain.com/blogsview/170293/old-ladies-wear-purple ]

You have to laugh

[Calvin and Hobbs, image from: https://www.youthareawesome.com/laugh/ ]

Psychiatry proves that laughter or even just smiling improves our health. Less stress, lower blood pressure, less anxiety. I’ve always loved comedy and jokes but I also laugh just for sheer pleasure sometimes. A stunning view, splashing in the sea, finding an interesting creature in a rock pool, all produce smiles.

Poetry and comedy have a complex relationship, sometimes sneered at, sometimes neglected, comic verse seems to survive. Spike Milligan was a genius at all forms of comedy but his poems have a lovely, simple pleasure to them as in this piece about a poor Grandma:

Granny

Through every nook and every cranny 
The wind blew in on poor old Granny 
Around her knees, into each ear 
(And up her nose as well, I fear) 

All through the night the wind grew worse 
It nearly made the vicar curse 
The top had fallen off the steeple 
Just missing him (and other people) 

It blew on man, it blew on beast 
It blew on nun, it blew on priest 
It blew the wig off Auntie Fanny- 
But most of all, it blew on Granny!

Spike Milligan, 1918 – 2002

[Grandma from Fruitella ad, image from: https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/grandma-gets-pregnant-fruittella-ad/1304503 ]

My own piece this time came from a big smile at the antics of a Springer Spaniel outside my home. He was such a busy, happy individual, sniffing at everything and tail wagging fit to knock him off his own feet. It reminded me of times I’ve spent smiling and laughing at the simplest things. I think, as children, we laugh more easily and find delight in many small things. Some adults lose that ability and that’s a huge shame. I try to keep the attitude of that Springer Spaniel, interested in everything, finding wonders everywhere.

It does you good

When the dog licked my face, I laughed.
Grandad did giant steps for me, as I laughed.
Coasted down the hill, to the rail station,
on my bike, singing a song and I laughed.

I danced with Leigh, spun us around and I laughed for the joy of it.
Stuart’s Park, my rocket flies up to the moon, the parachute works, I laughed.
My Sister and me, dangling teddy from the bedroom window and laughing.
Dog and me, playing in the river, pretending to swim, while we laughed.

Sometimes I laugh a lot, even now.

Glen Proctor

[Springer Spaniel, image from – https://www.harlingenveterinaryclinic.com/services/dogs/breeds/english-springer-spaniel ]

We’ll finish this month with one of the first poems I ever encountered. Edward Lear wrote some lovely pieces with such imagination. These words linger in my memories even after all these years and still make me smile:

The Owl and the Pussycat

I 

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea 
   In a beautiful pea-green boat, 
They took some honey, and plenty of money, 
   Wrapped up in a five-pound note. 
The Owl looked up to the stars above, 
  And sang to a small guitar, 
“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love, 
    What a beautiful Pussy you are, 
         You are, 
         You are! 
What a beautiful Pussy you are!” 

II 

Pussy said to the Owl, “You elegant fowl! 
   How charmingly sweet you sing! 
O let us be married! too long we have tarried: 
   But what shall we do for a ring?” 
They sailed away, for a year and a day, 
   To the land where the Bong-Tree grows 
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood 
   With a ring at the end of his nose, 
             His nose, 
             His nose, 
   With a ring at the end of his nose. 

III 

“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling 
   Your ring?” Said the Piggy, “I will.” 
So they took it away, and were married next day 
   By the Turkey who lives on the hill. 
They dined on mince, and slices of quince, 
   Which they ate with a runcible spoon; 
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, 
   They danced by the light of the moon, 
             The moon, 
             The moon, 
They danced by the light of the moon.

Edward Lear, 1812 – 1888

[The Owl and the Pussycat, image from: https://kingofmicestudios.blogspot.com/2011/06/owl-and-pussycat.html ]
Audio version of my poem

Uplifting

[Winter Hill, Lancashire, image from: http://www.boydharris.co.uk/w_bh17/170823.htm ]

This month’s theme is ‘uplifting’. Big or small, the things that make your heart soar, raise a smile, make things alright again, put the World right, even if only for a while. I was partly inspired to this theme by looking out of the window last week and seeing the sunlight on Winter Hill, just to the North of me. The colours were amazing and I had to just stand and look for a while. We sometimes don’t take time to appreciate what’s around us, what’s right with our lives, what’s special. Just today, I was uplifted by the sight of a daffodil blooming, a puppy wagging his tail and the daisies spreading over a football field. 

We’ll start with a poem by the inspirational Maya Angelou, she has uplifted many with her words but here, talks about love. The title is so apt:

 

Touched by an Angel

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

Maya Angelou , 1928 – 2014

[Daffodil through the bars – picture from the author’s collection ]

My piece this month is a sort of statement about who I am. It came out of a writing exercise by the wonderful Kate Clanchy. I’ve always been a hippy. I love to learn about other ideas, other ways of living, other explanations of the universe too. At the heart of it all however, is music and nature (and dogs!).

 

Hippy child

Oh! teapots, guitar strings, furry dogs.
Nice pens, blanket dens, books that talk
to me, soft tunes, melodies, singing of stars.
Healers, squealers, wheelers in the dance
of life.

Don’t line me up, with the aspirants or chiefs.
Put me down as ‘not knowingly orderly’.
Brownian, get downian, lover of the beat.
Gift me a flower, not picked but alive,
and when the dance is done, 
and all the songs are sung,
walk with me in the moonlight,
hand in hand and listen, with me,
to the water flowing past.

Hug a tree, with me.

Glen Proctor 

[ Tree hugging, image from: https://www.lynchburgparksandrec.com/history-of-tree-huggers/ ]

I began this entry by telling you about light on a hill. It seems appropriate to finish with light too. A wonderful piece by one of my favourite poets and writers, Rabindranath Tagore. Talking of light and love, butterflies and flowers, Tagore evokes joy with every line. I wish you smiles and happiness wherever you can find them. Be safe and well.

Light

Light, my light, the world-filling light, 
the eye-kissing light, 
heart-sweetening light! 

Ah, the light dances, my darling, at the center of my life; 
the light strikes, my darling, the chords of my love; 
the sky opens, the wind runs wild, laughter passes over the earth. 

The butterflies spread their sails on the sea of light. 
Lilies and jasmines surge up on the crest of the waves of light. 

The light is shattered into gold on every cloud, my darling, 
and it scatters gems in profusion. 

Mirth spreads from leaf to leaf, my darling, 
and gladness without measure. 
The heaven’s river has drowned its banks 
and the flood of joy is abroad.

Rabindranath Tagore

[Spring sunlight, picture from: https://www.nhpr.org/post/spring-sunlight#stream/0 ]

Audio of my poem from this month

Achievements

[Snowdrop emerging – [picture from: https://www.floraqueen.com/blog/snowdrop-flower]

At times of troubles all over the World, it’s good to pause and consider achievements. Not the huge ones, like a working vaccine or a new peace treaty, the little things that just make life better. The things that create personal memories that bring a warm, fuzzy glow when you look back. I love things such as seeing my first Snowdrops blooming after the winter, playing a piece of music just right so that I forget where I am. I love it when a dog comes over to say hello, even though we’ve never met before. 

I’ll begin with an American poet I haven’t featured before. I like this philosophy of exploring, pushing to the edge, seeing what’s over the mountain. When we give up looking for new wonders, we begin to stagnate.

Doors of Daring

The mountains that enfold the vale
With walls of granite, steep and high,
Invite the fearless foot to scale
Their stairway toward the sky.

The restless, deep, dividing sea
That flows and foams from shore to shore,
Calls to its sunburned chivalry,
“Push out, set sail, explore!”

And all the bars at which we fret,
That seem to prison and control,
Are but the doors of daring, set
Ajar before the soul.

Say not, “Too poor,” but freely give;
Sigh not, “Too weak,” but boldly try,
You never can begin to live
Until you dare to die.

Henry Van Dyke (1852–1933)

[Picture from: https://geographical.co.uk/nature/geophoto/item/3140-mountains-spring]

My own piece this time comes from an exercise in an excellent book by Kate Clanchy. It’s based on a poem by Simon Armitage where he lists things he hasn’t done (yet?) but then lists the things he has done in answer to that. Better to look at what you have achieved than sulk and fret over the things you haven’t. Sure, there are things I’d still like to experience but I have all the time of the universe and many more things will occur to me as life progresses. 

 

I have not… 

Sailed a boat,
across the wide Atlantic.
Watched waves,
higher than the mast,
rear up ahead of me.

Flown to the edge of space.
Watched the curve of the Earth,
slip by with a blue glow,
as we climb 
higher and higher.

Smelt a wild wolf,
as I snuggle in his fur.
Marvelling at his beautiful eyes,
the warmth of his coat,
keeping the cold away.

Dined at a five-star
restaurant where the meal,
looked way too small
for a Chihuahua 
on a diet.

But I have…

paddled a canoe
across the wild tidal rush
of the River Esk, where
it meets the sea, as 
it tries to take you, to the Isle of Man

Turned a glider onto
the final approach.
To kiss the runway
with its single wheel
and roll to a stop, landing done.

Snuggled a soppy
Golden Retriever and
fallen asleep, head
buried in his soft fur
to the lullaby of his breath.

Made my own Peanut Delight 
chocolaty and crunchy,
sweet and dreamy
and had it praised
by a real cook.

Glen Proctor
After Simon Armitage

{The Esk estuary at Ravenglass, Cumbria, picture from: https://www.visitcumbria.com/wc/ravenglass/]

I couldn’t not include probably the most famous poem ever written about striving and achievement, Rudyard Kipling’s masterpiece. Often used at public occasions, it used to be learned by rote in schools in England. For all Kipling’s faults (and he had many), he is a master writer of poem and prose. I’m not keen on the gender bias, it’s equally important for daughters to seek, to find, to explore but Kipling was a child of his time.

If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream, and not make dreams your master;
If you can think, and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings, nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And, which is more, you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936)

 [Kipling’s home in India, picture from: https://www.bollywoodpresents.com/jungle-book-author-rudyard-kiplings-bungalow-in-india-is-a-tourist-attraction/ ]

And this is me

[Big Sister and me – image from author’s collection]

I began this blog with my first post in June 2017 at the urging of my dear friend Thivashni, who also contributed to that post. Given the strangeness of the year and the length of time I’ve been writing, I thought it was the right time to have a bit of a retrospective post!

We’re living through difficult times for so many but light is gleaming at the tunnel’s end. I also am getting more intrigued by audio. It takes time to record, mix and upload audio versions of my work but I do think it’s worth doing. I thought I’d collect some of my work from past entries in this blog and post them here with audio versions for you.

By the way, I stole the title from a 1970’s impressionists show!

I’ll start with my poem from the June 2017 blog post, all about streams:

Woodland

Stream flows round a corner
falls over the ledge to splash
in pools where silver fish
play and rest amongst rocks

music of water, flowing ever down
soothes and calms provides
a relief for cares, woes and stress
as if, you washed your soul

in the clear cool water
and saw it fresh and new

Glen Proctor

[Stream in Prestwich Forest Park – picture from Author’s collection]

Next, a piece from the post on ‘Restriction’. Thivashni very kindly contributed to this post to help me out and keep me going! I owe her a lot. My own poem in this entry was about blurring the boundaries between metaphorical and internal fences:

Bars

In the path, between us and happy
thrown up as a casual gesture
not even with the care of malice
or revenge, just because, the plan
says bars, from here to there

Cheap steel and plastic, which peels
and flakes to let rust breath and spread
until the bars, are no longer shiny
just a rusty blight in the way
of wanderers and poets looking
to move with the flow of thought
to stop them short and keep them back
from reaching something which might inspire
freedom or such thoughts
dangerous to status quo, to stability
to the stagnation.

Glen Proctor

[Daffodil behind steel railings – picture from Author’s collection]

The next post I made talked about mental health and freedom. My own piece concerned what effect an image might have on someone constrained ‘for their own safety’ when they are released. Visual images can be very strong signals to our brain, when it’s combined with a scent too, the release can be profound:

Purple Lilac

was the first thing I saw,
that woke up my thoughts again.
Purple lilac growing wild.

My sleeve gets damp, tear-stained.
We had no colour in there,
except that they gave and took away,
everything was artificial you see,
that’s everything not beige or gray.
Neutral they call it as if that justifies.
Bright beads, bright raffia, bright scenes,
to occupy us, to numb us,
keep us quiet and clean.
While they do their things, for us, to us
according to best practise they say,
to make us ‘well’ where ‘well’ moves about
and can’t be defined for the fey.
As if weaving can weave the past away,
the life that broke us, back then,
in tiny pieces like the beads
fallen on the floor, again.
They pick up our fallen memories,
jagged bits in our heads,
and throw them in the bin in the corner.
Did I see that or was it the meds?
They mean well you see, most of them care
about us lost ones in pain
but each broken brain is different
and what we are is differently sane.
So they send me home with the label ‘cured’
and I watch the World pass by,
stilled by the meds, the chemical cosh
and I look out through a stranger’s eye.
But lilac now, lilac heals
because it isn’t beige or made up.

G Proctor

[Lilac bush – picture from: https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/homes-and-property/gardens/the-miracle-of-lilac-long-living-sweet-smelling-and-very-easy-to-grow-1.3890355 ]

A leap forward now to 2018. I was astonished that I’d kept up the blog for a whole year! This piece comes from an entry about ‘Generations’. Could have been influenced by an anthology of the same name that I contributed to around that time!:

Dad came home from the war

No, not that one, too young for then
the one after, the one where
‘superpowers’ wanted to make 
people in their own image

so he sent and received the signals
on a carrier at sea
aircraft carrier, that’s 5 squares
If I remember? big anyway

Was he changed by the deaths?
he wasn’t at the lines but then
even out at sea, he saw
shot up planes, crashes, the loss

but we came along, my Sister, then me
and navy life wasn’t a thing he could live
so home from the sea, home again
in a new start, new town, new world

to work the machines, with oil, steel and muck
boiler suited, toe capped booted
earning a crust, a packet of pay
as we played and chased, along the Tees

did he still have those ghosts?
I should have asked him then
maybe it’s all he needed, to lay them
to have someone ask, to tell, to bleed

the pains of war, of life left behind
friends gone, shipmates lost
a life he left behind in body
but did his mind forget?

We carry the legacy of his times
the sea still calls for us, 
both his sons and his daughter,
it calls a call in waves

that brings us all ease, 
Dad’s gene’s, his gift
brought home with him
from the sea

Glen Proctor 

[Our family (Mum’s taking the picture) at Seaton Carew c.1966 from the author’s collection]

I posted the next piece in a blog about nature. Something always near to my heart. This poem recalls some of my fondest memories of a very special place:

Miterdale

Beck on a moor, flowing down
From a spring in the mountain.
Across the moor and falls.
At rock’s break fracture, waterfall

Sound of water splashing down,
to a rocky bowl, with a soul.
On then through the heather,
past the wild bilberries 

and gorse and sheep.
The beck which joins
streams from other hills
to make the river that flows

down to sand and mud.
To the flat sea shore
where tide takes it out
to become the sea,

which feeds the ocean.
Drinking from the water, 
handfuls from the stream. 
Rooting a bond, a joining.

Child’s heart now tied 
to this place of peace.
Where it all begins
and grows a Love of peace, 

Love of wildness and silence,
far from road or rail, brick or beam.
No track or pavement to here.
Just the path the rabbits made

and the sheep widened
and humans borrowed for a while.
Life begins again when the anchor. 
Takes hold In a place I rested 

and still yearn for, a peace, a dream.
A cornerstone of love in a dell.
Where water splashed 
and washed the hurt away.

Glen Proctor

[Miterdale – picture from the Old Cumbria Gazetteer – http://www.geog.port.ac.uk/webmap/thelakes/html/lgaz/lk08042.htm ]

So that’s my first retrospective blog. Hope you enjoyed the poems and thank you to everyone who’s read, followed and/or liked any of the posts over the years. Back to normal for next month. The audio files for all the poems follow:

Woodland
Purple Lilac
Dad came home from the war
Miterdale