Tag Archives: 20th.century history

Shackleton’s Christmas Dinner

        Shackleton’s Christmas Dinner


Grey and white and


White and grey


ad infinitum


night


and


day ;


Scouring faces


battering bone


the ceaseless howl


of the bleak unknown ;


Across the Weddell Sea ice pack


driving the dog team


hauling three boats ,


trudging trudging


seven and a half miles ,


a week’s work ;


White and grey and


Grey and white


ad infinitum


day


and 


night.

HISTORIC FOOTNOTE:

SHACKLETON 1915

December 22 was kept as Christmas Day, and most of our small remaining stock of luxuries was consumed at the Christmas feast. We could not carry it all with us, so for the last time for eight months we had a really good meal - as much as we could eat. Anchovies in oil, baked beans, and jugged hare made a glorious mixture such as we have not dreamed of since our school-days. Everybody was working at high pressure, packing and repacking sledges and stowing what provisions we were going to take with us in the various sacks and boxes.


					

Anti – Imperialism

Anti – Imperialism


What’s John Bull gonna do when there’s no more Irish to shoot?

no more slaves to trade,

no more colonial rebels to put into concentration camps?

no more Arab villages to bomb,

no more lies left to tell about

who really got the win at Waterloo;

or how D-Day was nearly sunk

on the second day by a venal buffoon,

and the Great War,

yes that War

that was just one long bloody mistake anyhow.

Hepcats

Hepcats


over at Maxi’s


next door to the Flamingo,


friday nite cool;


Coltrane on his Blue Train,


Philly Joe’s drums hustlin’


for space and time


tryin’ to fill a vacuum


that Coltrane never leaves;


piercing gliding whetted


Coltrane’s sax cuttin’ the joint

cuttin’ the nite into ribbons


of color,strands of splendor


intoxicating innuendo for


Hepcats their mint juleps


colder hemp harder


earthier like primordial notation


drivin’ that Blue Train along


outbound bound beyond


all talk all senses


over at Maxi’s


next door to the Flamingo


friday nite cool.

footnote on ” Hepcat “.
A stylish or fashionable person, especially in the sphere of jazz .

End of Empire

Magnolia-scented archipelago morning,
camouflaged gun-carriages
slinking along
taut cobblestoned arteries
to the grand Palace de Ville;
half-awake kepi’d corporals
tune battered transistor radios
catching the tresses of
fleeting Francoise Hardy chansons,
their spiritual melange of
love,hope and understanding
struck down by the
bayonet sharp rays of the sun
glinting on pristine marble statues,
quiescent cherubs of moments
dawning and dying,
holding thoughts in thrall
evoking a lassitude that will never
see its own likeness again
in all the mirrors
that blank and fade,
as the first of the artillery
heralds the crucifixion
of Coup d’etat.

A 1960’s Northern Town

fading back the years,
to Friday-paid dirt-nailed
stand-up straight-razor guys,
smoke-stenched, beer-drenched,
immersed in Willy Dixon’s words
strung like wire
barbed across their hearts;
lost in deep resonances
of factory-line steam-hammers
raw and edged
like John Lee Hooker’s
“BOOM…BOOM…BOOM “,
drunk on too much scotch
and too much weekend parfumerie,
unrequited by Howlin’ Wolf’s
plaintive primordial lament
“ won’t you come back to me? ”
its timeless patina of weariness
covering the night that goes crashing,
its braggadocio getting swept aside;
the only consolation
is in the cold clear air
of Sunday morning.

Flashpoint

FLASHPOINT

It’s Aiko’s birthday today. Just as the new chrysanthemum dawn begins to beckon, she awakens and her naïve sleep-filled gaze is captivated by the spreading dawn that’s only an hour or so into its ineluctable theatre of nature. Its flamingo-hued fingers are drawing back the veil of night; a clarion call if any were needed to announce that today is little Aiko’s birthday.

An auspicious day with celestial harmony and tranquility prevailing. Later, once this nascent day has matured into full morning, Aiko will show her draughtsman accurate hieroglyphs to the school-teacher and he will smile, applauding her endeavour.

Having breakfasted with special treats her Mother made and fastidiously donned her uniform, Aiko accompanies her grandfather holding his hand on their stroll to school. Looking up, far up in the early morning sky, the observant Aiko says that she can see a silver kite drifting slowly, slowly across the azure canopy. Her grandfather squints and knows it cannot be a kite. Though from that”kite” a tiny silver sliver appears to begin to somersault endlessly earthwards.

Momentarily transfixed, Aiko pulls impatiently at her grandfather’s sleeve, and in that moment he understands that all the rumours were true and that this moment would forever be separated from all the other moments and all the other times and all the other places would be separated from this time and this place by this silver kite.

Without knowing that to-day is Aiko’s birthday and she would show her classroom teacher her draughtsman perfect hieroglyphs, that silver kite brings with it an inauspicious augury. Aiko will not be celebrating her birthday today, the day when time itself will come to an end, and it will foreclose on all birthdays. On this sixth day of August. 1945.

Industrial Landscape

 

Charred chimney blackened

horizons wreathed in

cotton from the mill,

coal from the pit,

spinning wheel spun

ocean depth burrowed;

dark and darkening,

surrounded railway terminals

clanking clamouring,

crashing their weights

freights of billets and cables,

smithied and forged from

molten steel heaving hissing

endless streams whiter than

the eyes of those snap-tinned men;

fire-breathers off the graveyard shift

criss-crossing paths with their

cock-crowed young mates,

on crammed jammed rattling trams

rolling home to neat-boxed quadrangled

estates where daytime lungs ache

for more of that air and

early evening eyes strain for

more of that light

doused too soon by

charred chimney blackened horizons.

 

 

Extraction Point

Rotor blades are swiping the sky,

bronze and orange paint their

surreal stripes across the horizon;

throbbing humming whirring,

meld into cacophany;

Rotor blades are swiping the sky,

chattering clattering hammering,

smacking concrete jarring the senses;

squatting crouching striding toward

the doors yawning open,

huddled in shock huddled in awe;

the bronze and orange painting

their surreal stripes brighter than before;

seconds seconds minutes pass,

losing time time gone;

throbbing bursting choking rotors

rev their roar,

doors slamming slamming

shut as coffin lids,

whisps, plumes and clouds

of smoke curl and choke

scrawl their epitaph

over the city;

bronze and orange continue to bleed,

rotor blades are swiping the sky.

 

Summer ’68

We wrote our own history

in an illegible script

with broken pencils

borrowed from empty classrooms;

We lit our fuses

with spent matches

discarded by all our yesterdays;

We sat and contemplated

the gathering gloom,

dark and heavy as velvet

shrouding the sun

that once shone on our

marching charging afternoons

along boulevards that we filled

with their peculiar fragrance

of tear gas and petrol.

 

Footnote:-

It’s 50 years since ” Street Fighting Man ” was recorded by the Rolling Stones during the portentous summer of 1968.

When Summer Returns

When Summer returns,

the last of the bones

will have been buried,

the endless lists of names

will have been erased,

even the memories of those names

will be forgotten;

When Summer returns,

meadows again will bloom

hiding their terrible scars,

under the green and growing

nourished by the dust

buried beneath;

When Summer came,

the gates swung open,

they poured in,

one vast tide of flesh.