Tag Archives: 20th.century history

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.

The Death of Stalin

Sergei Ivanovich was once “tovarich”

and hummed along to the “Internationale”,

he once was nearly bloodied at

at the barricades,mentioned in official

despatches he became a Party “hero”;

Sergei Ivanovich grew accustomed

to snap-heeled salutes in the

Kolyma Peninsula,1936 or thereabouts,

supervising prisoners’slashed-vein evenings

and their bowls of tepid soup

and the twenty kilo boulders being

passed along hand to hand:

and then,

They came for him;

the official ZIL saloon arrived

bringing with it The Silver Braid,

who lit their cigarettes tracing

scarlet arabesques in the gloomy dusk,

Sergei Ivanovich didn’t keep them waiting,

bowl-spasmed funk robbed him of

his steadfast demeanour as he opened

the door and the ZIL saloon

with its incense of iodine and

brown leather slinked back to

the wolverine forest where in

the night memories lose themselves,

and in the morning are found,

covered in quicklime..

 

Author’s footnote:-

I originally posted this as “Stalin Calls” on 19 July 2011.Only the title and featured image have been “re-booted”.

Dunkirk

Time stretches

taut as

a drumskin,

each passing syllable

a vibrating membrane

with the,

longed for

hoped for

prayed for..

Time stretches

beyond the horizon

each immeasurable step

further from

the vanishing point

of the,

longed for

hoped for

prayed for..

Time stretches

until,

until,

looping in

on itself

deus ex machina

the longed for

the hoped for

the prayed for..

Deliverance

FOOTNOTE:
In May 1940, Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops were slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 French, British, Belgian and Dutch soldiers were safely evacuated.

Shipping Office

The great smell of roasted Arabica beans,

the joyous sound of Haydn on the radio,

the grey-green overcoat slung on the rack,

boots dusted down with snow,

shipping office morning;

early yawning,tired greetings,

pages sifted sorted scheduled deliveries,

traffic reports orders from Head Office,

small talk,

family matters,

wallet-sized photographs,

his of Hannah and Gregor

both in Year5 doing well;

an absence of hurrying scurrying down

below in the yards,old hands talking

about the rail no longer punctual;

Daylight passes;

shifts change over

as the train rumbles in,

his thoughts now only of home

and comfort and what presents

to get for Hannah and Gregor;

trudging past big crates

lowered onto the platform,

out of the corner of his eye

he reads their embossed legend,

” Zyklon B “.

Last Christmas ( 1961 )

Sepia hued

smoke-filled aroma

of spicy gingerbread,

pervasive odours

of holly,ivy

and mulled wines;

infusing kitchen,scullery

and dining room,

evoking a childhood

with their forgotten

boxed presents

under the enormous

seasonal bough,

its array of

waxen lights

twinkling,twinkling

long into memory

and myth;

the greetings

and the joy

in Alpine setting

of hearth

and ” Heimat ”

Advent,Christkindl

and ” Stillenacht “;

their longing

recalled by chance,

by stray snatch

of melody,

returning,returning

to an innocence lost,

to a card once

annotated

“frohe weihnachten,A.E.”

now,here,

now in a place

where that birth happened

but no longer counts,

A.E.

Prisoner,

Adolf Eichmann.

(*Footnote:Notorious Nazi War criminal Adolf Eichmann was abducted by Israeli Mossad agents from Argentina and was put on trial on December 15 1961 in Israel)