World Poetry Day – the perfect opportunity to write poetry!
I started off with a careless ad hoc poem, as the worst possible motivation to write a poem is feeling like you have to write one. Continue reading
ECHOES OF SINAI
In the days when the desert was a distant land
You marched, head down, under a saffron sky,
Braced against the winds of change
Which churned up whole nations and left them as they fell.
Through sepia-toned memories of heat and sand,
We heard, fresh-faced, of wars gone by,
Of sufferings alien and strange,
In the lessons you passed down of those lost years in hell.
As you pushed ever onwards through the dusty dunes,
The sand, like rain, trickled through your boots,
Washed your face with motes of pain,
And flowed down your webbing in rivulets of gold.
There you stood for a moment, heard the mournful tune;
The dead, souls trapped, singing their salute,
And though you knew that they lay slain,
You marched on to Palestine, your fate already told.
In the last of your letters to your faraway bride,
You wrote, words proud, telling of the fight,
Poised to win against all odds
And never considering that she would soon lament.
Oh and yes, you fought well and you earned that pride,
But she, alone, wept for endless nights,
Raged and railed at any god,
For there are no winners when Hate dictates events.
After such a short time the sand covered where you lay.
Your face, flesh-stripped, locked in a forever smile,
Under the dunes and the desert stars,
Whilst your name was carved out on monuments of stone.
A hundred years later and a thousand miles away,
The sky, just once, turned yellow for a while.
A speck of your memory landed on my car –
I brushed it off without a thought. If only I had known.
Hey Miss, can you see me?
I’m here, in the Square.
I’ve been here for ages,
But its like I’m not there.
Hey Sir, can you hear me?
I’m trying to say:
“Don’t take life for granted;
Don’t throw hope away.”
I was twenty years old once,
I worked in the sun.
I travelled with friends
And got paid – such good fun!
There were eight of us once.
Then four got picked off,
And two got burnt lungs,
And Tommy, he went mad-
Just ran through the wire.
And me? Well – incendiaries
Cause a hell of a fire…
I was twenty years old once…
Suppose I am still.
Age never means anything
To those who would kill
For two minutes a year,
You see me and weep.
You hear our message –
You’ve got peace to keep.
Yet outside of that silence
I see you, your wars.
Despite all we did!
What did we die for?
Truth is, ‘til November,
I’m just letters on stone.
And you’re twenty years old,
And you’re glued to your phone.
Today is World Mental Health Day. It seems quite depressing in itself that there needs to be a day dedicated to thinking about mental health, as there is no equivalent “physical health” day.
With physical health, you feel ill and you go to the doctor. The doctor will do whatever they need to, prescribe whatever you need or supply whatever support is necessary, and you generally – hopefully – go away and end up fixed.* You’ll tend to do that without even thinking about it, especially if you are in the UK where we have the NHS (which is a whole other blog post).
With mental health, that doesn’t seem to be the usual process. The need for a Mental Health Day is proof that there is still a stigma about illnesses of the mind, and still a reluctance to seek help for them. There is still an embarrassment about “confessing” to a health professional that you’re having difficulties coping, or handling your emotions, or struggling with life in general. If people feel like their mind is ill, they tend to deny it, push on with it, ignore it, avoid it, justify it to themselves as something normal and absolutely not talk about it to anyone, at all, ever. Until they have to. Continue reading
My colleague and I are starting a new challenge whilst we are in a work-deprived state in the office. We tend to have around 6 weeks a year where there is a dearth of projects, with them being either delivered on time (as we are good at our job!) or not yet started.
The challenge is that one of us will choose a phrase from anywhere at all, and then both of us have to write a poem around that phrase. I’m going to store them on this blog for posterity.
Today’s phrase was from a video my colleague was transcribing, and it was “we found this puffling in the parking lot”
We found this puffling in the parking lot
On a Thursday night in March
When the rain was suspended in the air
Like tassels on your granny’s lampshade
It shouldn’t have been there, but neither should we
Dressed in twilight and cloaked in gloom
Our breath caught fleeing by the streetlight
As if it was the only one with a conscience.
It could have been a tragedy
A future on the inside on the outer edges of life
But I turned away from the darkness
And wrapped the puffling in my coat.
(Since I wrote this, I changed some of the wording and recorded it – under the title “A Different Path” – for local radio, which was fun!
In a profession where the majority of my time is spent like I am now – sitting, typing on a computer, working out with the mind whilst the body stagnates on a chair – a common topic of office conversation is weight. Or going on a diet. Or not going on a diet. Or breaking a diet. And I’ve noticed that a lot of the time, it is so very easy to shift the blame for a lack of change onto anything other than oneself.
I can’t pretend I haven’t done this. Of course I have! With many aspects of myself, over many many years. It isn’t pleasant to have to accept the reality of what may be an unpalatable situation – that we are all solo architects of our own destiny.
If you truly want to make changes, you have to first accept the possibility that you may be wrong. If you want to learn to do something the right way, you have to admit that the way you currently do it is not perfect. You have to be willing to have your self-edification knocked down, bulldozered and rebuilt with stronger foundations. None of this is easy. It isn’t supposed to be. Continue reading