A fistful of stories

 

A fistful of stories

The journey began in a January made cold by depression.
Two secrets lay with pressure at the heart of a new year:
We were to have a baby, and it too soon to reveal,
too early to celebrate, but not to seal the drink.
Profound gloom gripped my every artery, flowed
freely from a well of loneliness that never dried.
The shadowside returned and taken over
robbing me of capacity to uncork joy of girl or boy.

Unfit for work that month, my memory let pass each day
without recording the slightest smile: what was worthwhile
in the time? How was the pregnancy to be seen
with energy? How was the man to rise to the occasion,
when what was at stake was for a lifetime?
Fearfully, un-tearfully, I slipped back to work in February.
Five weeks before I screamed without sound,
before I burst without breaking.

I threw a self on the mercy of my beloved.
She held me, firm throughout March. The doctors too.
Together we broke the news on phone to family:
we were expecting a baby. It was our greatest joy.
We wished for another surprise, called it Itsy,
Beyond gender, we took the scan,
made an altar by the bedside. It was still
freezing. But the thaw began and never let up.

In Seville, there are little girls in long dresses
striding along narrow streets in the old Jewish quarter.
Vibrant yellow, flourishing pink, you’d think
a bunker of golfers had come to admire the Spring.
I’d begun to sing a melody only I could hear,
while unflown tears grew dry. Back
from the rack, a training manager again, I began
“A diary for Itsy” – before the rising of the birds.

Dawn broke, sunlight across the Moravian Church.
across the road Blossom Cottage bloomed, our wee treasure sprouted.
Her conception celebrated in song, verse and sandcastles.
I remembered Kilkee, picnics by the sea, periwinkles,
short bent pins scooping slimey shellfish out.
Cobblers in the Pollock Holes, Rackets and swimming in salt.
Piece by piece, I painted warm colours all over my childhood.
Unknown to me, I was getting ready to go home.

June came, the air of redundancy
re-discovery of Jimmy Webb, uncovering
David Whyte, and poppies by the road to Oxford.
I sat with Marie while ducks played past Flag Iris.
We talked of generations and making fun in Cork.
We imagined what the stork would bring.
There was time to sing when July arrived:
two job offers for Edel, a ticket to move.

Grace flooded out onto the Royal United Hospital maternity bed,
Thirteen hours and thirty minutes after the first contraction.
Violetta her middle name, and she wide awake.
For her sake I’d dipped into “The Bloke’s Guide to Pregnancy”
swatted-up on nappy re-cycling, bought a Stokke Sleepi.
She blew away the luxury of sleep, fed her way into our lives.
fragile bundle of need we had to feed. Sluggardly,
the puzzling for patterns predominated. Grace made her space.

I left the job and went to work with my two wonderful women,
slipping easily from Bristol city buses to domesticity,
revelling in the art of slinging her up the Cotswold Way,
or round the Circus, up Milsom Street, even past the Crescent.
There was Cork waiting with harbour, taking newcomers
into Douglas. The present is a strange land, and I’m ill-prepared,
an innocent abroad in native hands,
ready to stand on my head to fit in suburban woods.

There goes the year, you know it well.
It had a fistful of stories to tell.

Allen Ginsberg poem – selected by Mark Frazel

Mark Frazel (Chicago USA)

Mark Frazel

I am a documentary filmmaker who lives in Chicago. This first poem I am submitting “A Supermarket in California” was written by the American poet Allen Ginsberg (1926 -1997). Ginsberg had studied at Columbia University in New York under the poet and critic Mark Van Doren who was influential in bringing attention back to Walt Whitman. Ginsberg’s poem imagines the poet Whitman in the contemporary setting of a grocery store in Berkeley, California, where Ginsberg was then living.

_____________________________

A Supermarket in California

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for

I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache

self-conscious looking at the full moon.

In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went

into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!

What peaches and what penumbras!  Whole families

shopping at night!  Aisles full of husbands!  Wives in the

avocados, babies in the tomatoes!–and you, Garcia Lorca, what

were you doing down by the watermelons?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber,

poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery

boys.

I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the

pork chops?  What price bananas?  Are you my Angel?

I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans

following you, and followed in my imagination by the store

detective.

We strode down the open corridors together in our

solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen

delicacy, and never passing the cashier.

Where are we going, Walt Whitman?  The doors close in

an hour.  Which way does your beard point tonight?

(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the

supermarket and feel absurd.)

Will we walk all night through solitary streets?  The

trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we’ll both be

lonely.

Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love

past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?

Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher,

what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and

you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat

disappear on the black waters of Lethe?

________________________________

Berkeley, 1955  (From Collected Poems 1947-1980 by Allen Ginsberg Harper & Row. Copyright © 1984 by Allen Ginsberg)

_________________________________

Animated film of AG “reading” this poem

__________________________________

Please note:  Mark Frazel & I first met during “The Walt Whitman Show” – live streamed on Periscope. I am very grateful to Mark for his wonderful contributions to that (daily) show.  Thank you very much Mark.

___________________________________

Writer / producer Mark Frazel, 62, dies of heart attack

 

Mark Frazel

Versatile writer / filmmaker Mark Frazel, the husband and partner of Carey Lundin of Viva Lundin productions whose documentary, “Jens Jensen The Living Green,” recently won its 10th award, died July 4 from a sudden heart attack at St. Joseph Hospital. He was 62.

Frazel’s multi-award winning “Jensen” doc, now airing on national PBS stations, recently received a Medal of Honor from The Explorers Museum in Tullamore, Ireland, for his ability to render a story of how one person could accomplish so much and inspire so many.

“Mark’s own life story was not dissimilar from Jensen’s in that he believed in the value of nature and human decency,” said Lundin.

Frazel wrote and produced commercials for a wide variety of clients, including political spots for consultants Adelstein/Liston, and sales, marketing and recognition videos for NEC, and FMC.

His writing career included collaborating on the feature “Sweet Home Chicago,” based on a short story by Stuart Dybek and “Hands on Chicago,” Bonus Books, called “a mini-encyclopedia of Chicago, from Haymarket to Mayor Harold Washington.”

“He was a lion of knowledge with an incredibly voracious interest in the worlds of art, writers, celebrity, history, music and film. He will be remembered for his cutting wit and giant heart. He helped anyone who asked,” Lundin said.

A Chicago native raised in St. Barnabas’ parish of Beverly, Frazel was a 1985 graduate of the University of Notre Dame. His book “Hands On Chicago,” co-written with Kenan Heise, is an encyclopedia of Chicago history that was named Best Nonfiction Book of the Year in 1986 by the Illinois State Historical Society.

Frazel is survived by his wife Lundin and eight siblings, 13 nieces and nephews and many, many friends.

A memorial service will be held Sunday, Aug. 28 at St. Ignatius College Prep, 1076 W. Roosevelt, 12 noon to 3 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to restore the Humboldt Park Jensen Formal Garden: Chicago Parks Foundation, 541 N. Fairbanks, 7th floor, Chicago 60611.

Arrangements entrusted to Donnellan Funeral Home, 773/238-0075. Sign the guestbook at http://www.donnellanfuneralhome.com or share memories on facebook.com/markfrazel.

Scared

Scared

I’m scared of the octopus that lives in the sea
There’s a shark out there on a wave you can’t see
How do you know there isn’t a whale?

It’s too deep to float
That salt’s too old
I’ve read you can drown in a bath.

I’m afraid of tsunamis
Remember Santorini
She was meant to be safe.

Jellyfish sting and they’re Portuguese
I must be alergic, I’ll die of shock
It’s time to run for my life.

 

_____________________

Portugal 2017

 

16 Stations of the Cross

 


16 Stations of the Cross

The ground too rough, the shards so sharp,
tyres of wheelchair can’t make it round,
nor legs of those who only strain to push.

I
Thorned and roped, a man
accepts his mortality
condemned to stations

II
Shoulders made for Cross
bones of feet and straining palms,
Salvation’s burden

III
The first fall on stone
eyes open, lips dry, prelude
– this is the real thing

IV
Mother of mothers
I sucked your love for comfort,
come, again, again

V
Cyrene Simon
strong stranger with a mission
another always

VI
Veronica loves,
wets hem for almighty face,
the man feminine

VII
Stumble and tumble
slump on your face example
– will you rise again?

VIII
Jerusalem mourns
the women lead, still men howl
all community

[There are green hats here,
youngsters of Ireland,
the kind Dev thought he knew.
I’m an old warrior
used to seeing contradictions, labyrinths,
in love with generations of confusion
– these are my stations.]

IX
Three times Jesus crashed
head first, splinters in torn back
– will you ever rise?

X
Strip that body bare
show off those ribs of Adam
– tortured is our life? 

XI
Is that iron sharpened?
that nail hammered through his bone ?
– we must make this hurt

XII
Die the dead hero
give up your ego, expire
– only one way through

[The man in the blue shirt
holds out a cup of water.
Mother sips dehydration away,
rest before here Saviour,
the Father reads the last prayers.]

XIII
Pull him down, I say
follow orders, my letter
– there are hearts ripping

XIV
We have a spare tomb
let’s shut him into deep dark

clandestine caverns

XV
Let’s get up early
be there before the birds sing
– always Mary knows

XVI
I see the flesh whole
I sense the soul united
– Resurrection lives 

______________________

(Lourdes, June 2010)

You are one of us

You are confused
unsure
uncertain
you have mixed feelings
you are in two minds
afraid
worried
cautious
wary
overwhelmed
stretched
you are alone with your inner critic
you feel weak
dependent on others
disappointed in yourself
you have secrets
unloved
let down
you wish you were understood
you crave forgiveness
suspicious of your motives
mistrustful
needy
self-obsessed
you have bad intentions
you put your best face forward
behave like a confident person
walk as if your knees never knocked
strong
assured
knowledgeable
educated
You make yourself organised
decisive
you speak as if you are worth a listen
you associate with successful people
work the room
you look as if you’re listening
you say the right things
appear to be good
truthful
honest
you say you’re rational logical objective
you  show off
you promise
say you will change
profess to believe
smile
offer support

you are an average human
you are loaded with emotions
imaginations
rivers of thought

You are one of us.

 

__________________________________

Welcome VictoriousOne

VictoriousOne

I am an amalgamation…
an opportunity …
a dead end…
a new beginning …
a power source…
an old cliche…
a work of fiction …
a lightening rod…
a magic trick…
a mission impossible …
a best kept secret…
a shiny object …
Take what pleases,
court what eases,
coax what teases
& leave the rest.

____________________________