I went to the Beehive Poets again.
They can't keep me away.
Four pints of Gold Cup, and a Jameson later, I came away with that warm cleansing of the soul that one gets from gaslight, an open fire and an intellectual exchange of ideas - and a bit of a skin full.
It was workshop night, which is rather a groan. True, the poems do get rather more analysis than on a read round night - well the early ones anyway - but equally the conversation surrounding the poem tends to be rather less free flowing and open, more stilted.
There was rather good work on show. Ed had an interesting piece on Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his interest in early 19th century Greek romanticism. David's Dr Seuss-like flow of consciousness sexual outpouring was entertaining and funny. But the highlight for me was a poem by Christine, which in the built up threatened to be an emotional mess but in the telling was a delightfully satirical piece along the lines of Voltaire or Gogol. It was/is a work of genius. Conveying on many levels messages about the role women, and the dangers of allowing oneself to be labeled.
As for work, I completed the third part of religious thing - I say thing because... well... it is religious and it is not; deliberately.
I think it probably is a triptych, as opposed to three stand alone pieces - the first part probably could stand alone, and maybe the third. The middle section is the weakest, with far to much 'he said' 'she said' and not enough moving of the camera and action. I'll but it out to workshop and see reaction it gets. And in the meantime I'll let it lie, stew, and and see how I feel about it in a few weeks time.
Here's the whole thing....
I follow the crowd pulled by curiosity.
The day is hot, even for morning it's hot.
The Jordon shimmers through the reeds, cold green,
licking the foot prints at the water's edge
into flatness. He waits for us, glowing,
on the far bank, hand in welcome to cross.
The new sun dazzles, but some, bright blinded,
enter the water. The splashing of feet dulls
as they reach midstream, their clothes drag them back.
Waist deep, women toss their girdle aside,
rend their simlah, and bare breasted proceed
to receive his welcome. I sit on a dune
as others go across. Some with clothes, folded,
held above their head, naked men, boys, women
sailing infants over in fig baskets.
I do not go. Nor does the carpenter.
He takes stale bread from his bag, breaks it,
gives it to me. I nod. A cheer goes up
over the river as blessings begin.
People dance, sing, hands clap, laughter rings
as one by one these simple folk immerse
themselves, to emerge joyful and saved.
My tongue fishes an unmilled grain from the crust.
Curiosity satisfied, we leave.
In The Market
The tax collector's beadling stare pins me,
holds me. His sharp, hooked nose sniffs for coins.
He leans across the narrow slatted stall,
eyes twisting, as a bird, or a lizard
eager for more; fearing the prey will fly.
Six meager coins lay before him, his hand
gathers them up as he slides back from me.
His beard stinks of onions, and avarice.
He moves on. I swat a fly from a fish eye,
and smile engagingly at a soldier
who pauses to examine the paltry fish
left unsold, Their glass glazed expression,
milking inward, speaks of the rot begun.
The breeze carries the scent of evening bread.
I keep the best fish, throw the rest to dogs
in the innkeepers yard, pull eight bronze coins
from the chink in the wall, pay for the stall,
and prepare for home when I see a crowd
stood around the door of the doctor's.
The carpenter is there, sitting aloof,
as the people jostle, and push, to see
through the doorway, into the courtyard.
In his hand, he holds a stave, that he smooths
with a piece of glass, turning constantly
the wood, back and forward, thumb and fingers;
running the glass steadily up and down.
At his feet the stave's foot hollows a bowl
in the dust. From the courtyard drifts a voice.
A clear voice, baritone, lemon scented.
I have heard it before. The carpenter
lays the stave aside, stretches his left leg
and rises from the wall. It is then I see
the tax collector perched like an eagle
in the lower branches of a cedar;
spying into the courtyard down below.
My mother's neck is speckled with flour
as she takes the fish, lops the head, fries it.
"Dog dong. You, Sardine, two. Talapia, six.
Hands off. Six, Six." Creaking wicker baskets
spill their guts, glistening bloodied, dark fin,
sliding, slipping, gills gasping, mouth agape.
Clattering coins smack down, elbows jab, "Six,
six, not five, six. Dog dong." Rigging rings tap,
loose furled sails waft sunlight on buyer's backs;
light to dark, shout and trade, profit then eat.
I secure my basket, careful to cloth mask
that one twig that hates me, seeks my kidney.
"Dog dong, Dog dong, sardine two, pay up."
Damp morning still hangs wet upon the air.
Horizon haze lengthens earth's rim skyward,
pulling trees into ghosts. Sun washed houses
open shutters to bleach them fresh of night.
Sleepy caught morning bread burnt odour fades
in the ferment and grind of women's work.
I stop to shift my burden at the spot
on the river, where yesterday crowds came.
Abandoned shoes, snaking girdles, belts,
lie on the near shore. Whilst on the far bank
nothing remains, except a single wreath
of thistles, purple bright among the reeds.
Cresting the brow, I see a crow fly straight
to the inauspicious tree, on which hangs
a slave. The patient crow lands, struts, listens
to the four dark figures, impervious,
standing beneath its meal. As I draw near
I hear the tax collector and doctor
engaged in heated wrangle for the nail.
The carpenter hands the soldier his stave.
As the wood splits her groin, she sags, exhales,
her white eyes look up to heaven in joy,
as the candle of her arms gutters, dims
the burning blood trapped within her head.
Unmoved, the taxing Samaritan claws
at the deal, for the nail tearing again
at the young girl's flesh as the soldier turns
back to the carpenter releasing the shaft.
I pass by, half turning to shield my load
from the tax collector's calculating eye.
Cue random photo to tart up the Facebooks...
The Blue Book, now with run resistant ladders, £1.84