Thursday, 30 January 2014

Crap Thinking (rondeau)


Crap thinking, always prevalent,
Immune to reasoned argument,
The power of human vanity
So strong that our capacity
To question, be intelligent,
Seek only real enlightenment,
Is put aside, development
Stopped. Familiarity -
Crap thinking-
(Reciting) taking precedence
We are our own establishment
And thus, preferring certainty,
We're reduced by this inanity,
This cult of what is relevant,
Crap thinking.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Beautiful Face


Today I saw a beautiful face,
Driving a car.
I looked down on it from the embankment,
And saw into its soul,
Through pre Raphaelite eyes,
Which gazed up at the clouds,
I noticed every detail in that tiny moment:
The two large yellow-green pools,
Expressing hope, longing, sorrow?
Which should have been reflecting
Back, reeds and lilies, dripping
At the water's edge
The width of the face across the cheekbones,
The flare of the chiselled nostril,
The beautiful, long, drooping, curved slur
Of the mouth,
And yet the hair was cut sensibly,
Where it should have been long and flowing
In chestnut waves,
And the skin was lined, though not really old,
And I wondered what was the purpose of so much beauty
In real life, middle age, driving an ugly Fiat.




Friday, 24 January 2014

Donald Macleod and Donald Maclean.


This afternoon I said Donald Macleod,
When I really meant Donald Maclean,
And thereafter couldn't refrain,
From sighing aloud,
At the thought of the beautiful face,
Fair hair,
Blue eyes, high cheek
bones,
Of Rupert Penry Jones,
As I imagined him,
Presenting 'Composer of the Week',
Stuffed full of musical knowledge
And wishing to impart it to me,
In person, without the restrictions
Of time and place.
Ah! To dream of a beautiful geek,
And to dare
To imagine how I would show my disdain,
When he spoke of Philip Glass,
And alas,
How I would have to keep him at arms length,
Which would require all the strength
Of my musical convictions.

BBC Radio 3 - Composer of the week

Fifty Shades of Grey (rondeau redouble)

Copyright Paul Houston flood Airmyn

Fifty shades of grey in winter weather,
Not all eliciting resistless sorrow,
Most beautiful of all the pigeon feather,
It's iridescence giving hope - tomorrow
Will be bright, cheerful in greater measure
Than this day's dreary hue;  look slant, see heather
Violet, peacock blue; no pigment, it must borrow
Fifty shades of grey in winter weather,
And make them modulate in incidental light, in turn together
Amplify, attenuate and thus produce a rainbow;
Fifty shades, within a single treasure,
Not all eliciting resistless sorrow,
And yet, having to find hope within the shadow
Feeling one must search to find one's pleasure,
The colour in the endless chiaroscuro,
Most beautiful of all the pigeon feather,
Feels sometimes like a chore, and altogether
One wishes that the pallette were less narrow
And one wonders at such beauty, whether,
It's iridescence giving hope - tomorrow
Will be brighter, is false; might it wither?
Is this optimism,like the feather's shaft, quite hollow,
As there's beauty of a sort when storm clouds gather,
And who knows what's to follow -
Fifty shades of grey?


Monday, 20 January 2014

Being 'More Dog' (rondeau redouble)


Being 'more dog', when I am alone,
Because I am normally cat,
Is a skill that I thought that I'd never hone,
But each morning I put on my 'more dog' hat,
And when I see others I wait and chat,
And then walk for miles and don't stop to moan,
At the rain and the frost and things like that.
Being 'more dog', when I am alone,
Means I try to treat friends like things that I own,
And enthuse and encourage and knock them down flat,
With my joy at their very existence.  It's unknown,
Because I am normally cat,
For me to give praise and be glad, but at
The height of my 'more dog' mood, I disown
My English reticence.  Being kind with eclat
Is a skill that I thought that I'd never hone,
But to compensate now I just bark at the phone,
And this is a valid response; dogs also like combat.
At my 'dog' bonhomie I guess friends sometimes groan,
But each morning I put on my 'more dog' hat
And continue to think about fun, but I own
That it gets rather tiring and sometimes the cat
Claws come out, else the dog is a bitch, has a bone,
And needs must bare its teeth, is that
Being 'more dog'?

Saturday, 18 January 2014

The Morning Whistles


Shostakovitch  passacaglia starts it,
Emitted from my lips, chapped and dry,
With too little breath to really complete it,
And switched off quickly from passers-by.


Then the high distress of an oyster catcher,
As it circles the mud banks now exposed,
And the sudden clap of a flock of pigeons,
Ignored by the cormorants in rows,
Hanging their ragged black washing to dry,
On what’s left of a tree stump nearby.


But taken up by hysterical widgeon,
While the terrified egret, frogspawn snatcher,
Amphibian and reptile dispatcher,
Rises up slowly and flaps away,
When the dog, still youthful and uncouth,
Startles his equal in vulgarity,
A mallard duck like a dinner lady,
Cursing loudly and lacking in charity,
Repeating the same words each working day,
Whose mate acknowledging she speaks the truth,
Albeit with indifference, rude and grudging,
Adds to the chorus a half-arsed croak,
Before continuing diving and dredging,
Before declaring that he‘s feeling needy,
And sweeping fat Doris duck under his cloak,
Down at the old pond’s edge, where it’s reedy,
Bobbing up further off bright and beady.


And the loutish dog ventures in for a soak,
While in the wheat field behind the floodwall,
The crazy radio interference
Of a skylark, making its first appearance,
Adds to the morning a new dimension,
And momentarily diverts my attention,
As I try to discover the birds loud and small,
Whose inhaling/exhaling whistling,
Sounds rather rude to anyone listening,
Like ancient bed springs pumping and creaking,
In short bursts, as if things are flagging.


And I feel voyeuristic, almost sneaking,
And the dog turns round to see why I’m lagging,
When suddenly all the mornings squeaking,
Is drowned out by a noise more urgent and loud,
As a wayward rabbit apart from the crowd,
Seized by the throat by a weasel or stoat,
Trumps the morning whistles with squealing.





September Afternoon Jaunt


Whizzing along in the Jag,
Windows open wide,
Swooshing down hill,
Like the last of the swallows,
Smelling the heat outside,
Over the Wolds we go,
And there, spread out below,
Almost too beautiful sight,
Limestone and pantile delight,
Hovingham basking in afternoon light.


Scented and shimmering haze,
Hay bales and cattle which gaze,
At visitors watching them graze.


Then up to Helmsley we fly,
Indigo car under cobalt blue sky,
To this pretty and trippery place,
To find a parking place,
Then hike past the castle and over to Riveaulx,
Steep stony steps, forcing a go slow,
Romantic ruin reflecting the last glow,
Of this glorious high summer day,
Up on the Wolds way.

This Bed


Smooth mahogany, slightly scratched,
Constructed in 1922,
By grumpy Grandad Broadbent,
A man by nature deeply attached
To neatness. And I think it's true
To say, who wouldn't relent
From striving to achieve it, so that
If he were to come back from the dead
And see it now: a little dusty,
Clothes disheveled, and the cat
Curled up asleep beside my head,
And the dog, smelling rather musty,
At my feet,
And a very crumpled bottom sheet,
And the remains of things to eat,
The table beside sporting cold cups of tea,
And my clothes cast off upon the floor,
And some Biro marks by children drawn,
He might feel cross, but we
Can't arrange our lives anymore
To suit the dead than we can scorn
Entirely their influence.
So when my back clicks back to place,
I'll tidy up and tuck it in
And live where the confluence
Of his ideas and mine meet in a thin
Stream until, within a short space
Of time, I'll revert to type again.

Thoughts While Tidying up my Bedroom

To clean and clear out and throw away,
(Even those things which lurk beneath the bed)
Distracts my mind from sadness, bleakness,
Rejecting shabby clothes from yesterday,
Reminders of my former self, my weakness,
That in wasted sentiment clung on,
As if a single knitted sock upon
The wardrobe floor was demonstrative
Of anything but my laziness,
Was anybody's representative.
I can't turn back the clock, the long
Half dozen years; find its match to make a pair,
Store it in a way not just suggesting care,
But being a manifestation of it -
Not craziness.
And my mother knitted just because she could,
It wasn't her great pleasure, so the fit
Of things was never quite as good
As she had hoped in starting the creation,
It was in life that my rejection
Must have hurt, not now, so catharsis
Will benefit my mind more and all this
Will help me start afresh, and look ahead.

I see three pigeons and my mind takes off.

I see three pigeons fat and grey as cats
Squatting careless on the branches, swaying;
Darker blobs against a pale, dull sky, that's
Only beautiful when it's not weighing
Down on your imagination, squashing
Hope.


 If you pretend it's watered silk, or crepe
Intended for a dress cut on the cross,
Which bias cut will always sweetly drape,
Then this might compensate the loss
Of cobalt, beryl, and cerulean,
Adorned with cirrus swirls or mackerel shoals,
Above this plain so plainly ging gang Goolian,
Which on such days can seem to fill the souls
Of those of us who walk upon its ground,
With a mad happiness, which we absorb
Through pores within the skin, as all around
Is sky and light; the sun (it has to be an orb)
Is never really hidden from our view,
There is no hill to hide it, only cloud.



But then come days like this, there is no blue,
And we must suffer long and cry aloud,
Unless we use our strange imaginations,
Or focus all our thoughts internally,
And this is why it seems such compensations
As expressing these ideas long windedly,
Are so very beneficial, for you see,
They help to cure the pain of being me.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Darjeeling First Thing

video

There were sometimes mice
In the upstairs kitchen,
And on occasion it was  difficult
To make the distinction,
Between the evidence they left,
Declaring their existence;
Which was invariably their habit
On visiting,
And the large black leaves,
Scattering the surface
Of the contemporary, Formica
Teak effect  cabinet.

Faith was required,
A strong conviction,
That however odd the taste
That was the intention,
The nature of Assam , Earl Grey
Or Lap sang,
Not the accidental addition
Of mouse excretion
'Here's a cup of tea darlings,
We've run out of Typhoo,
So it's a cup of Darjeeling,
There's no milk, so its Carnation,
And no sugar,
But thankfully necessity 's the mother of invention
So I've sweetened it with treacle.'

So we sat up in bed
And drank the strange concoction,
Pale and weak
Or strong and syrupy,
We daughters of invention,
Grand daughters of necessity,
Partly out of thirst, and partly out of duty
And partly out of a great curiosity,
And partly with a hope that our mother's devotion
Would mean she'd not allow us
To drink brewed mouse poo.



Wednesday, 15 January 2014

This Morning For A Moment The Dog Caught A Hare.


A kestrel which swept low over the field,
A red gold brown in  brilliant winter sun,
Alarmed a hare which startled then revealed
Itself, not camouflaged against the dun
And lumpy plough, as it had been before
Among the grasses at the fields edge.
In panic it ran back along the wire,
To where the irrigation drain with sedge
Grown close prevented its escape.


And there the dog, just for a moment, stood,
And pinioned him, and I stood by agape,
Until my sense returned, so that I could
Shout a loud and Sergeant Majorish command,
And watch the hare fly up and over land.

An Egret and a Flock of Llamas

video
Beside the bright, white windmills
Strung out across the field
An egret flew;
As if a tiny fragment
From the very tip of a blade,
Had made a bid for freedom;
A beautiful avian Eve,
Which from a turbine rib
Did this Adam, yield,
As if remaining static,
Merely harvesting the wind,
Were not sufficient,
Caused him frustration,
And he wished to know;
Liberty, and the ecstatic
Joy which is deficient
In a life of standing still.


And as I watched her go,
This piece of PVC snow,
With the same strong flight,
Purposeful yet slow,
My eye was drawn
To a softer whiteness,
A herd of fluffy backs
Below the crowd of clouds,
Billowing out of Drax,
As if little clumps
Of flossy condensation,
Had been turned into this flock;
These bits of God's beard,
From a child' s imagination,
Become cumulus nimbus
And then miraculous,
Glorious, cumulus llamas.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Darlings, You Must All Work Harder to Keep Me Amused (Sestina)

I wrote this to cheer myself up after a day of reading nothing but rubbish on my Facebook newsfeed.  My multi headed love is my name for Facebook, I have written a sonnet and a poem in rhyming couplets to him/her.

You disappoint me everyday, I am
Let down, but feel I can't prevent it,
For I invest so much emotion in
This tool that let's me speak and read, I act
As if my multi headed love were one
Real being with whom I can converse.


I don't know any cure, I can't converse
With people in the flesh, but feel I am
Too full of things to say, to be alone,
But if I have no friends, then why resent it,
This facility for talking, why act
Like a child, why give in


To these bouts of moodiness?  My violin
At its most plangent cannot moan - converse
In tones as sad as my internal dialogue, the act
Of all this moaning and resentment means I am
Just fuelling my misery, but knowing it
Does not prevent it, what is to be done?


And why do I imagine this is to be done?
Ranting at my multi headed love in
Iambs, which do not excuse the deed, it
Is not likely to achieve my aim, the converse
Is more likely and I am
Quite sure that none of you will like my lack of tact.


And I always make excuse after the fact,
Forgive myself my silliness but none
Of you do I forgive for being dull, I am
A hypocrite. And yet the ceaseless din
Of voices of self loathing, who converse,
Attempting thus to undermine my spirit


Recruit my writing to their cause so that complicit
I cannot then retract.
And so my love please try and entertain, converse,
Explain, amuse, but spare the drivel,for we are one,
And like in Heaven we must feed each other, and in
This way avoid the Hell of loneliness - also the need to scream.


There is a deficit of interesting ideas, fill it, imagine none
But you can act in such a way, converse amusingly, and gauge how well you fair, by noticing how happy I am.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Dozing Off and Remembering Vegetable Stew With Cabbage.


Drifting into fireside armchair dreams
Exhausted from the housework of the day,
I'm standing in the kitchen and I seem
To keep glancing down into a pan, the way
That children do, in charge of cooking,
And the pan's the pressure cooker full of stew,
And what I notice in my anxious looking,
Is savoy, so I know that it was you
Who made it, with pearl barley, and the scent
Drifts up, of vegetable stock.


And then as I begin the slow ascent
To wakefulness, accompanied by the clock,
I feel a great nostalgia and the pain,
Of knowing I'll not eat your stew again.

A Frosty January Morning and Up Early to Drive to a Nine O' Clock Service (Villanelle)


South south east, the sky was streaked dramatically,
St Johns on the horizon piercing it,
I appreciated them, aesthetically.


I drove due east through frost, resignedly,
The sun on the horizon melting it,
And wished to record it, photographically.


The chapel at Bursea snuggled cosily
Beside the manor farm, protecting it;
I appreciated them, aesthetically.


Inside was warm and I sat, hypocritically
Mumbling the service, and rejecting it,
Yet singing hymns enthusiastically.


The old vicar and his voice which beautifully
Spoke the service, enunciating it;
I appreciated them, aesthetically.


The light which shone in, brilliantly;
The words spoken by others, 'meaning it,'
I wished to imitate, poetically,
And appreciated them, aesthetically.

Y5XP426VESDG

Friday, 10 January 2014

The Links North of Retford


And did the feet in recent times
Of blackened, tired working men,
Walk upon these hummocks, emerald green
As winter wheat grown on nitrogenous ground,
And were these gentle  undulations all around
Really slag heaps,
Dirt and nutty slack piled mound on mound?
And do the sons and daughters of such men          
Now walk in natty looking brogues,
Sporting Pringle jumpers, wide legged slacks,
To demonstrate that man is meant for leisure,
Utopia's to be found here on the earth,
In pursuit of this most mindless pleasure?
Was Oscar Wilde right simply to dismiss
The idea of the dignity of labour?
Do I really wish the mines might still exist?


 I do not have the answer to these questions,
So I asked D H Lawrence, in my head,
And as we drove past his beard
Filled with flecks of foamy spittle
As he fumed in his confusion,
And I really can't remember what he said,
But he got his knickers in a dreadful twist.


Thursday, 9 January 2014

Buzzard



Silent now, though never still,
Buteo Buteo, beautiful,
Beside the boring bypass bridge
Against the changing sky
Wheeling raptor, prompting rapture,
Out of some instinctive duty,
Above the scrubby bit of wood,
Along the man made ridge
Back above the sandy hollow,
Rough and holey warren meadow,
You fly;
Your wide wings spread
As if you would,
Through sheer force of will,
Above the alder and the willow,
And the Drax clouds pure white billow,
Drive out rabbit, pheasant, hare,
And there above the muddy field,
Chocolatey and lying fallow,
At the sudden point of capture,
Your cruel talons wield.


Monstrous and dark brown shadow,
Ravenous and wheeling raptor,
Rapture at your strength and beauty
Born of some poetic duty
Seems to drive off care.



Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Imagining Airmyn in the 18th Century

An oyster catcher rises up,
From mud beside the full flood pond,
The first I've seen, this year.
Hurries away, its cry more urgent
Than the wigeons hysterical whistling,
In the swirling silty river.
And then the solitary shell duck,
Alarmed by us, or what it can hear,
Launches long-necked into the air
Flapping effortfully
In the opposite direction.
And I think, absurdly, of how the dog and I
Seem to suddenly startle
Only black and white birds
On this misty morning, promising sun,
And of how long ago
This broadening bend of the Aire
Was where the wharves and staithes were.
So in my head,
Eighteenth century barges and boats,
Now crowd the scene,
Except I suspect
My imagination
Is inaccurate, romantic;
Altogether too many sails, galleons.
But the joy of transforming the picture
From flat flood plain mired, dull,
Into a Flemish painting instead,
Seems worthwhile.
The pantiles and the early little bricks,
The rustic red and terracotta,
Of cottages which snake along and round the bend,
Look Dutch
In this late-winter-morning light,
Which I adore,
And busyness, industry, mess,
So delight me that I wish I had my camera,
To photograph this pleasing panorama,
Capture something of this strange invented day.
And I turn back to the lonely,emptiness,
Willow, river sky, quagmire, clay,
And I think about how less,
Is really never more.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

A Glorious Walk on the River Bank

Photo copyright  Paul Houston 2014
The sky a hue of pale turquoise,
A Festival of Britain shade of blue,
And from the flood plain, full in view,
The Wellingtonia, or Giant Sequoia
Towers above the Ouse Bridge, its poise
And elegance and majesty renew
My sense of pride in ownership,
As if a human being can own a tree,
And yet I do!
And I feel like shouting;
Membership
Of the Wellingtonia owners club,
Being limited to a few.


The Wellingtonia's height
Is echoed in the clocktower,
Whose spire, Victorian Gothic
Pierces wispy bits of cloud,
Its face and hands display the hour
In shining gilt;
Its chime sufficiently loud
To carry far across the river.
And of course it is specific,
Yet I never bother to count it,
The chiming itself sufficient clue,
Because time is unimportant,
All that matters in such minutes
Is the beauty of the day.


And however I might try I can't surmount it;
But that never stops me trying to;
Though no description does it justice,
No words portray
The colour and the texture of the water,
Ruched and puckered so you notice:
The tiny shadows chopping up the surface
In a slightly darker shade of purple-grey,
Or the whiteness of the turbines
As they whirl in windy synchrony,
Strung out across the fields in ragged lines,
Before the massive towers of Drax
Producing candy floss,
Which forms a colony
Of clouds along the way.


The seagulls circle over by the flood ponds
Filled by the tide, just ebbing now,
Making little bits of titanium whiteness,
As if chosen to fulfill the purpose
Of counterbalancing the brilliance of the light,
And a crowd of ragged rooks in black rotation,
Create a further arty, scenic device.
And as I think of how man returns to dust,
The cold wind breathes a life affirming gust.


Friday, 3 January 2014

The Pruning of Apples and Pears by Renewal Methods


I have a first edition somewhere here,
Filed with non-fiction alphabetically,
No dust jacket; a useful book, with clear
Instructions given non poetically.
And yet how much of poetry is pruning,
How truly pruning makes a tree poetic,
A means of striking balance and fine tuning,
To gain a strong and simpler aesthetic,
And yet in cutting out the oldest wood,
And crossing branches, timber inward growing,
We gain new growth, both vigorous and good,
Succeed in improving what we had, showing
That when we cut, the branch, fed from the root,
Regenerates to yield much finer fruit.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Jan 1st 2014

The first day of 2014,
Grey, bleak and cold
Spiteful, harsh and mean,
Rain on the wind,
Familiarity with this kind of dismal weather
Has bred contempt,
January: dull and old
Before its begun.


And now I wish to make myself exempt
From its effect,
Exclude myself altogether,
Disconnect,
My desire is to rescind,
Cancel my contract
Until April,
Annul participation
Indulge in hibernation.


The first day of 2014
Grey, bleak and cold,
Gloomy, dark and vile,
As so many other January firsts have been,
Familiarity with this kind of weather
Has bred contemptuous whinging
Since the dawn of time,
There is nothing innately worthwhile
About putting it in rhyme,
Honing
The skill
Of meteorological moaning.