Drove 8 hours, with Daz, to get there.
Straight down the middle of the country,
from the South East to the
middle of the North, the Dales,
to meet the boys, my Middlesbrough mates,
Dad’s now, hence the imaginative name.
In the middle of the clearing, a protective circle of silver birches, who wear friendly faces, on their moonlit branches and trunks, when you stumble through, drunkenly of an evening, the fire sits resplendent, front and centre, our focus for two days, friends, fire, food, fine ales and belly laughs, till your middle hurts and your cheeks ache from grinning. I drink too much, too quickly, this was too much fun... I crawl off to my tent, "... just for 5 minutes like, just to rest me eyes." I hear the crackle of the fire, the fizz of old friends, comic roles resumed, the cursng and the gentle teasing, the accents as familiar and welcome as an old duvet. Great tunes, playlists that cover old favourites, shared raves and new discoveries. Music made us and it keeps us going still. I drift in and out of sleep, dreams and reality merge, Could there be any better place? I'm laughing at the jokes, I'm dancing with the flickering images from the fire, cast on the tents sides, I'm more relaxed than I've been all year, We have seen off one Lockdown, And got our timing spot on ...August Dadcamp 2021.
This night is seared into my memory,
and now your poetry prompt names it,
Midding, happy to be on the edges of the group,
secure in the company but under no obligation.
Midding with my Boro boys, the mates that did so much,
by just being themselves, as I rebuilt myself, after my family was blown apart.
Getting up in the middle of the night,
Daz and his brother Gav are holding court,
smoking like chimneys, drinking like priests,
Whiskey Priests. The fire still roars, some tents snore,
The brothers are electric, vital,
we cross the comic cosmos,
we chew the cud, and giggle at the gristle,
we let off steam, as the smoke rises
and a new day dawns.
On the final morning,
the thought of the 350 mile drive has me on edge.
We pack up the tent but have to wait and help Gav pack up.
Gav works on Gav time. A coffee, a roll up,
a cup of tea for the road.
Everyone’s gone, the Himalayan Hotel
still needs to be packed down.
I could fret and worry, as I usually do,
but this morning I adjust…I bend to Gav time.
We pack most of the tent away,
as Gav directs, “Time for tea and a fag…
then fold that section in like this!”
He draws directions with a stubby invisible pencil.
We are last to leave… but somehow it feels right.
We drive back becalmed…on Gav time
through roadworks, Reggae rocking us gently
back home…on Gav time, exhausted but smiling,
Midding on the edges of a Sunday
afternoon, in the middle of lockdowns,
in the midst of a pandemic.
Gav got secondaries and went downhill quick,
he had no fight left since they split, said Daz.
I watched the funeral on my phone,
on my break, outside my classroom.
This year Dadcamp will be Gavcamp…
We will send him off in style,
in our own sweet time…
in Gav time.
I hold a grudge, like it were forged in Sheffield Steel.
I taste the metal blood tang in its claws,
I feel real, alive in its jaws.
I savour it like the heady aroma of spiced rum,
a hit for the head,
a hit for the gut.
The grudge is gregarious, a garrulous presence,
evangelical in its hatred, manspreading its misgivings,
throughout the mind.
I cling on to a grudge like a life raft on a raging sea,
like a desperate last hope, a salty, sharp kick in the teeth.
I fear the grudge is an essential part of me,
I hold onto it like it were handed down to me,
a legacy of my lost and broken family.
I pounce on a grudge the way, well fed, domestic cats,
clutch onto a dead bird… for sport, for the pretence of vitality,
to trick the self into feeling that it is out at large in the world,
rather than cowering, covert,
removed from sight,
in a home,
fashioned from delusions and sharp sticks,
dark fears and stolen thoughts,
repressed emotions and a trickster’s tongue,
not the only son,
hidden in the Magpie’s nest.
Under the counter culture.
We need to counter
the culture of hate, blame and profit.
We need an under the counter culture
of empathy, understanding and love.
We have nothing but each other,
We are many, many, many,
if only we could listen to each other more.
Ignore their media noise, their press gang,
Don’t hand over the cash,
Resist Amazon. Resist greedy Billionaires.
Don’t give them what they want.
What we need is a massive injection
of love and compassion.
Micro dose the world and press reset,
eat the rich, eat psylocibin,
drop the debt, drop an E,
let’s make the music and dance.
dreams are extraordinary animals
In Alaska, where perhaps the biggest dreams are found,
the Nunamiut Eskimo of the central Brooks Range
speak of dreams as hunters something like themselves.
In the dead of winter hardly anything moves.
It’s very hard to make a living, yet the dream eats.
She hunts in the darkness. and stays warm.
She gets on out there.
Explanations for the dream’s behavior are rampant.
The dream exerts a powerful influence on the human imagination.
What dreams do excites.
It takes your stare and turns it back on you.
Everyone believes to some degree that dreams howl at the moon,
or are driven crazy by the smell of blood.
The truth is we know little about the dream.
What we know a good deal more about is what we imagine the dream to be.
I have watched captive dreams.
I drove across the Dakotas and Montana and Wyoming,
speaking with old men who killed dreams for a living when they were young.
In New York I read in libraries what men thought of dreams hundreds of years ago.
I read in the archives of historical societies of outlaw dreams and Indians.
I spoke with people who loved dreams and with people who hated them.
I once saw a dream on the tundra winging a piece of caribou hide around
like a Frisbee for an hour by herself.
Whenever I’ve spoken with people who’ve never seen a dream,
with Eskimos and Indians here,
with field biologists working on dream studies,
with a suburban population wary of dreams on winter nights,
with environmentalists pushing for protection,
there is a great mix of opinion.
Observed behavior amounts to about three one-thousandths of 1 percent of dream behavior.
The dream drifts on.
The dream’s coat is remarkable,
a luxurious fur consisting of two layers.
Their pelages range from slate blue to almost pure white,
through chocolate brown, ocher, cinnamon, gray, and blond.
The dream is tied by subtle threads to the woods she moves through.
They believe that dreams know where they are going
and that perhaps dreams learn, from the behavior of ravens,
the metaphorical language of legend.
They believe certain dreams in a pack never kill,
that dreams can turn their backs to the wind
and sleep comfortably in the open.
Thanks Barry Lopez
Between work, a welcome return to playing football and a ‘trampfire’ in the garden tonight with old friends, there is little time for a new poem. So here is one created on a Carmen Marcus creative writing zoom course. It is kind of on prompt as it uses lines from a Steve Mason song.
(lines in bold from Alive by Steve Mason)
Did you float it all out?
days on morphines, on the old red sofa,
television and second-hand sunshine.
Did you have your wee shout?
grunting and growling, louder than tennis players,
Wimbledon on tv, struggling to eat,
radiation has eaten my throat
and Rich, you ask me,
‘What is the greatest pain
you’ve ever seen someone go through?’
a flash of my brother,
greyed, in make-up, in the morgue.
I see Siobhan, in child birth, in camel pose,
a bloody hand print left
on the wall behind
a different sofa.
‘And did she shout?’
she breathed deeply
muscles straining, believing in yoga and strong
and feminine grit
and nails in my wrists
and then the beautiful Nancy,
bloody against my naked chest.
Because the songs that they sing to you, Baby
and then both my babies, much older now, look at me
with such sad eyes ‘Will Dad die?’
and I hide and I cry and I choke
and I cannot make light
the radiation damage
my heart floats
They made you crazy
they make you ill to cure you
or not cure you
my sister’s eyes
of her toxic maths
thirteen years of life
seven years of chemicals
Have your wee shout
take the fucking needle out
I do not have to be good
I have had enough
Just push em out your life
to this dot
to my core
I must exist
to get down
to the essential
I sweat for the day
effects ripple out
but this cancer
is in me
and to save me
we are broken
I lose bits
of all of you
And all night I cry
we are broken
do we ever get back?
Don’t you want to see me alive?
only want to see me alive.
Some days dawn, coma like,
hazy and heavy, drawn from the other side,
dragged into being, with a sigh like a scream.
Defend yourself, slice citrus fruits and berries,
till the juice coats your fingers,
and spikes first your nostrils and then your wits
Heat coffee over a naked flame.
Take aim, fire yourself into heavy traffic,
arm yourself with a high decibel shot of David Byrne
or Drum and Bass.
Mask up, strap on your work face.
Dive, dive, dive.
Some days you return from a class full
of reception kids, all ‘Look what I did.’
to a garden full of relatives, a kitchen filled with chatter,
heat, spitting fat and cooking stress.
No space, no time to decompress.
Stop again, do not make excuses,
make time, make a commitment.
A poem every day, prompt!
Uninspired by metonymy,
no desire to examine,
to hold up a symbol, to define an age.
Examine, search the senses.
There is a throb, like bone crawl through ears,
a buzz behind the eyes, a rattle electric skull,
a noise ridden day, echoes through aging nerves,
the calls, the crowing, the chiding, the complaints,
beat out a rhythm of broken meanings,
a staccato tachycardia…
So I close my eyes,
go fishing, fix on that moment,
seeing you with your troubled background,
you with your family’s darkness,
fix yourself in the moment,
chin raised, eyelids lightly closed,
skin pulsing, translucent,
yellowed by the light,
holding your friend’s hand, on a bench
in a concrete corner, a sheltered enclave,
taking a second to feel the world,
the warming touch of sun on the skin,
the bliss of a light breeze on bared limbs,
the quickening that comes with a sheer blue sky.
Some days you cannot make sense,
Some days you cannot make the connections,
Some days you cannot write the poem.
Some days you just have to slide into the moment.
Some days you just have to be.
When the times grow dark, the music begins,
When the music begins, the pulse quickens,
When the pulse quickens, the magic flows,
When the magic flows, we are lifted and dancing.
When we’re lifted and dancing, we all move as one,
When we all move as one, that’s a movement begun,
When a movement’s begun, we bang the same drum,
When we bang the same drum, we sing from our souls.
When we sing from our souls, we can start to believe,
When we start to believe, we can believe in each other,
When we believe in each other, we can make a fresh start,
When we make a fresh start, we can light up the dark.
Listen to Sleep by Ionopolis on #SoundCloud https://soundcloud.app.goo.gl/ANLpF
Sleep like you had never been born,
burrow into the blank, darkness
and let the static, the silence
surround you, let this fluidity of form
inform your mood, settle back,
close first one eye, then the other,
breathe deeply, lay still,
lay like there was
no world outside,
no social groups,
no social media.
No-one or nothing
to eat at your self belief,
to question your worth,
to undermine the good work
you have always done.
You are special.
You are unique
You are strong,
though right now, you may feel weak.
This will pass, things move on,
rest now, restore,
time will show you,
where you belong.