When I reflect on my life

which is a dangerous occupation, I notice too much. Especially too much time lost. For example, this morning Roger Overall and I were scheduled to record the Business Jazz podcast from 09:30. As usual, every Friday morning, I was running a few minutes late.

Intent on catching up, making up for lost time, I hurried onto Zoom. Laptop booting up while I joined the meeting via iphone7. A man with two joining devices.

A man with no sound. The smart phone was quick, as usual. The MacBookPro slow, as usual.

Here’s how the time of my life, both of our lives, was squandered.

Silence. I couldn’t hear Roger. He couldn’t hear me. We were reduced to text messages. You can’t record a podcast via text. (Poor effort at humour)

Eventually, we recorded the podcast via Skype.

How much time was stolen from us by that unwelcome gift of silence? (Perhaps I am a better person for the unpleasant experience?). But it was a horrid time – so horrid I dare not remember, or calculate, how much of my life was squandered.

This is a theme of my return to blogging: remembrance of lost time. A la recherche du temps perdu – remembering Proust – and the time I was able to speak French well enough to converse (never well enough to be subtle with it).

The time I pause here – the time in between sentences, phrases, and even words – is purposeful. Gathering energy, clarity, and alacrity – that’s time well invested.

The time of my life.

Writing from impulse

Teeth are complex growths.
There are a lot of things that can go wrong with your teeth. You know that from experience, and when I woke up this morning I was aching. Top right, about half way along the row.

It was five o’clock, and dark. It’s a good long time since I woke that early and struggled unsuccessfully to go back to sleep. Imagine the rest…

Chances are you’ve been there. The human condition…

It’s the same with dogs,
Louis’s vet told me on Tuesday. “I wish every dog-owner would brush their dog’s teeth” were her words. I bought a toothbush and asked for instruction. The advice came free. Louis may have a troublesome back tooth.

Teeth are complex,
and mine have been fill with all sorts of things ever since my first dentist insisted every crevice should be drilled.

I’m impelled to touch on my teeth because the impulse to write on this topic came while I was saying to myself “I must embed this new habit. If I write here every day. for 1,000 days, I’ll do for the rest of my life. Probably.”

Start with what you know.
Was it Hemingway or Aristotle who first said that? I know what it’s been like to experience the pain fading away. It’s midday, it’s gone.

Should I rush to the dentist? Take my time? Place it in the box marked “Bad Dream”?

Infuriated

My MacBookPro (vintage 2012) infuriates me.

Not, used to infuriate me – not, infuriates me some times.

All the time.

It’s so slow it’s best for me to make a cup of tea in between keystrokes.

I’m not interested in complaining. Un-inclined to rant. Not given to bile. None of those tension-relieving releases does my emotional health good.

Where would I be without patience?

For the last two years my laptop has been a ‘godsend’ – it has been teaching me patience every day. Continuous coaching.

Be mindful Paul. Take it easy Paul. Breathe my friend. Stay calm, this is a gift of an opportunity to be in the moment, to notice your being – thoughts, feelings, imaginations. Watch your being float by – as if froth on a flowing stream of river water.

I’m fortunate to have such a lousy computer. It’s helped me achieve what I have achieved. Without it, I’d have achieved so much more that I would have been vulnerable to hubris. This bloody machine has kept me safe.

He’s done his job. Soon it’ll be good to put him out to grass, bury him with honours & relief.

And welcome his replacement. I trust she’ll have a smile on her face.

Unless I write this now

I may never write what I want to write now. So blooming obvious. So silly maybe. You see when I started blogging in 2005, I had an audience. I had one person I ‘knew’ would want to read whatever I’d write.

She wouldn’t bother reading me for another 25 years – that didn’t matter to me because all I needed was one human being. If there was one person interested, besides myself, that was enough.

I didn’t care who else read the blog. They would be welcome guests but I wouldn’t write for them. If I started writing for a wider audience I’d be distracted by thoughts that would slow me down.

My mother was still alive.
She wouldn’t even read my stuff and I didn’t mind that. My brothers & sisters, my wife, my ex-wife, my sons – none of them mattered. Of course they mattered. They might appear in the blog but I wouldn’t be worried about them.

An infant was the one person in the world that mattered to my blog. My daughter Grace who was born in August 2005. She was my audience. We were about to move to Cork Ireland. That’s why it was called “From Bath To Cork With Baby Grace”. Such an easy title to invent.

I was in Cafe Beva
in Glanmire this morning, talking with my best friend, talking about his wife. Her writing practices. They are a secret because I don’t want to run the risk that she might find out we were talking about her talent.

What matters
to this blog is that the conversation about one writer’s behaviour has influenced me to change – to stop not writing.

I don’t know who my audience is. It was easy in the old days, 15 years ago. I had confidence in what I was doing. I’ve lose that clarity. Whatever I wrote in that first iteration of this blog is done. My daughter knows enough of me that I don’t find it easy to imagine her reading this.

Without an audience,
I may give up. This may be a flash in a pan. A false dawn. Any appropriate cliche.

Who cares. The future isn’t here yet and I dabble in living in the NOW.

Postscript:
I’m not making time to add a photo to tart up this blogpost. I don’t care. I might do that later.

Your Field Of Dreams


I slipped onto the stage that Wednesday night,
our audience in rapturous applause.

I bawled my way into their hearts.
The Path I’d come was a long, nourished, winding road.

The midwife grinned, concluded her Service,
and tucked away her fears.

I was born to cry,
it was not time to speak.

If you’d known me then,
you’d have judged me unique.

II.
My father, the bookseller, could not bear the pain
of reading my mother’s face
as she bore the body language and every laboured move.

My father slurped his pints, with friends,
in Murphy’s bar on Catherine Street
until he was turfed out
to meet me on another stage,
with Respect 
– before the cock crowed.

If you knew me then,
you’d have counted me (Eh) a child with Potential.

III.
After that start, and before I came to greet you
I joined the club. Together we chartered “Excellence Born From Fun”.

You, my friends, you know
the way you came into the world of faltering phrases.

You know
the years at school were not enough to wipe the jitters from your heart.

You know
what it’s like to be married to Trepidation, to be caged like a tiger separated from her Confidence.

You’ve lived on stages and danced with clogs
on floorboards creaking for flight.

Today, of all days,  let us join together and thank the gods.
This online day you come divorced, divorced from the Demon Doubt
that on your stage once reigned.

Come here, dear friend, from every field of Earth.
Let us separate together
from a spouse that vowed the worst on you, that vowed you’d fail

and celebrate.

Un-vow that contract with Trepidation
It was made under duress
Annul the marriage of unlike minds
Cast off the shackles that hold your larynx tight.

Arise angelic audience
Arise and sing together the lyrics Smedley sang
Your “Song of Champions”,
Champions of the World.

You know what it’s like to be a flower born to bloom on stage.
Rise up
and Promise
Promise you’ll trust that sweet melody of Integrity 
that’s growing in your field of dreams.

The Cauldron

Let’s not go back through the whole story
– who was right and who was wrong
– who was trite and who was strong.
Let’s not chew the cud nor blaspheme
into the eyes of the other side.

All us elephants belong together,
no matter the weather,
even if we carry opposing memories
in trunks weighed down
with the affluence of a river stream,
weighed down under the influence
of our tribe of scribes.

Don’t you remember … ?
Haven’t you forgotten … ?
Surely it was a dream
conjured up in daylight
suffered by night
under O’Ryan’s belt
or Murphy’s plough
– the one she gave away
to her infant star?

Let’s not dwell
on the hell
of the big bang
our sides faced
in silence,
the vacuum of peace
and war of the worlds
we each imagine
the other inhabits.

We elephantine serpentines,
we cling to the underside
of the all-knowing
Red Admiral.
We think we know better than to rage
against the fading meteorite.

In the puddle of blood we dribbled
from wounds our flashpoint celebrated
there isn’t an ounce of virtue
outstanding.
There is time in space
extending
all about a place
as warm as a teddybear’s tummy,
as soft as powder down
on a heron’s breast.

We are witness.

Let’s move on to the pale moon light,
and wake the characters within
a freshly scrubbed cauldron.

#2019

2019

IMG_8932

1.

The year I changed

my mind, priorities, concerns –

2019 was the year

I woke up to the end of the world

as we know it.

The future of human civilisation,

the future of animal life,

the future of vegetables.

All’s lost,

all’s on its way out.

Earth smiles knowingly:

off you go, you upstarts,

I’m tired of your foibles,

I recall the good old days,

when you lived on plains,

in villages,

hand to mouth.

Even your first fire was fuel.

Goodbye to ugly habits.

I love being Earth,

the future is bright

half the time,

The stars will illuminate

the way to dusty death.

2.

The year I turned a corner

and bumped into my shadow

going the other way,

contradicting

the art of resurrecting.

Maturing.

This has been the year I matured

into the light of a river flowing

with the voice of bones

creaking and cracking,

consternating.

There was gin in the bottle

crying out for a taste,

neat,

at room temperature,

as the ice melted,

as Greenland peeled back her corset,

and the emperor penguins cried their way

towards their end.

3.

The year I stood up straight

in storms, hurricanes, typhoons, tornadoes, famines, earthquakes, floods, lightning, thunder, droughts, volcanoes, collisions, crashes, massacres.

I’m living among refugees –

the people of Monasterevin, Carrickmacross, Oughterard, Moville, Rooskey, Ballinamore, Borrisokane …

The Laboratory Way

Copernicus was struck by sun


Galileo toiled on speed


Newton was premature


Darwin sailed to sea


All knew apoplexy 


Hawking a singularity 


Turing cryptography


Einstein messed with relativity


Aristotle lost his bottle


Let’s go to the Laboratory


Mix the chemistry


Let in the sun


Our failures breed us fun.

Communities are Conversations

We are collaborating

Communities are Conversations. Conversations attract Collaborations. Collaborations change Communications. I have noticed strong communities are nearly as strong as poems fit for purpose.

In this day & age, and in this place & stage, the melody of metaphors, allegories and similes is the best way to cut through cant. Unfortunately for many communities, the gestation of the foetus is done, the birth of the Individual has come. Recently …

The Magician turned her back to the sea and spoke to the Wind:

Come join us in our unity. Take your place at the table, you belong among us. Together we grow stronger than our surroundings. We rise above the ground that supports us. Feel yourself hugged by a multitude of villagers eyed with affection from every squinting window. Come inside your birthright, and sign the book of your life written in invisible ink. Let us understand you better than you understand yourself. Let us guide you past the temptations that fester under your skin. Let us make you whole. Our health, your health, Your health, our health. Unity in unity. Lose yourself in magic.  Speak wind, speak our language.

The Wind spoke:

“You touch me in every orifice. Your smell invites me into your cave. I see your shadows beyond the fire where I was forged, your reflections on my mind.  Have I the right to resist, the power to deny, the authority to cry ‘NO’?  I shall not be bent into shape like a plashed hedge” whispered the wind.  This breath is not for turning. You can keep your unity Community. I’ll be no village clone, I am grown to live alone. I belong to a grander table, better fed, vulnerable as the weather, fragile as glass. I am an elementary particle. Call me Neutrino, I am so small I pass through your imaginations unimpeded and undetected. Surely you see my city, Diversity. May you understand yourself so poorly you sink slowly from your throne. I am the Authority authorised to sing louder than your choir. That’s what you mean to me.”

And the Wind blew the Magician into her sea where she went in search of a victim weaker than an Individual Gust.

Return Return Return


To every thing there is a season  
and a time for some re-cycling
all your plastics:

A time to be held, and a time to try;
A time to fold, and a time to claim
all your values;

A time to save, and a time to care;
A time to store, and a time to use
all your rubbish;

 A time for your stance against the waste;

A time to build-up, and a time to break down;
A time to pause, and a time to act
all together;

A time for battle against the waste
A time to fill bins, and a time to join hands 
all for freedom;

A time to love, and a time to change;
A time to save, and a time for peace
all of our lives.

Your Human Rights

You have the right to be wrong
the right to imagine
to love
to think
to feel
to be disappointed
the right to whisper
to say nothing
to shout, brood, pout
You have the right to be disliked
the right to be ignored
to be sad, stupid and shocked
the right to try, sigh and cry
the right to have many more rights
You have the right to experience
and the right to know
there are consequences for exercising your rights

The Magician and the Wind

The magician turned her back to the sea
and spoke to the wind:

Come join us in our unity,
take your place at the table,
you belong among us.
Together we grow stronger than our surroundings,
we rise above the ground that supports us

Feel yourself hugged by a multitude of villagers
eye’d with affection from every squinting window.
Come inside your birthright
and sign the book of your life
written in invisible ink.

Let us understand you better
than you understand yourself.

Let us guide you past the temptations
that fester under your skin.

Let us make you whole.

Our health, your health
Your health, our health.
Unity in unity.
Lose yourself in magic.

Speak wind, Speak our language.

The Wind spoke:

You touch me,
in every orifice.
Your smell invites me into your cave
I see your shadows
beyond the fire where I was forged,
your reflections on my mind.

Have I the right to resist,
the power to deny,
The authority to cry no

I shall not be bent into shape like a plashed hedge”
whispered the Wind
This breath is not for turning.

You can keep your unity,
Community
I’ll be no village clone,
I am grown to live alone.
I belong to a grander table,
Better fed,
Vulnerable as the weather,
Fragile as glass.
I am in elementary particle, call me Neutrino
I am so small I pass through your imaginations
Unimpeded and undetected.

Surely you see my city,
Diversity

May you understand yourself
So poorly
That you sink slowly
From your throne.

I am the Authority
authorised to sing
louder than your choir

That’s what you mean to me.

And the Wind blew the Magician into her sea
where she went in search of a victim
weaker than
an Individual Gust.

Raw

Do not go naked into the flames of Hell

Stay at home with ice cream on your tongue.

In the heat of the moment when Ire screams at you

KILL KILL KILL,

wipe that face off the devil

and smatter her to smithereens.

Remember Madiba,

the man on Devil’s Island

He lives on

Why was Job attacked by pestilence when he was so guiltless?

He’s not to be overlooked.

Stay your hand at home.

It is written

The viper is born to strike

– no malevolence there.

Like the pussy cat that catches the robin

and plays it on

till it dies with feathers flying,

The book proclaims

your pet deserves no blame by you,

Likewise

an enemy deserves freedom from blame.

Eat vanilla, honeycomb, chocolate chip

Consume your stracciatella,

let it cool your fiery throat

Down Down Down …

until the storm is done.

Do not go naked through that bloody trap-door,

there’s a whisper in your ear wishing you well,

a road from Hell.

Here’s why

The black hole was sent

to gift you practice,

patience of Hibiscus

that sucks up the storm

for the sake of the flower

that blooms in the marinade

of imaginary life.

______________

Note:
This is a second draft. (The first draft was published here yesterday, unedited.) It still deserves to be buried for incalculable time.

Someone else might like to see this first.

The Dog And I

There are women in the house

A feast of them in the kitchen

Excited

High-pitched

Well-dressed women

in high heels.

Seven bottles of white wine ready, chilling,

a choice of Gins, ice, quinine,

feminine time

in the back of the house.aa

The front room is for exiles.

Louis sleeps,

Paul composes

It’s too soon to know whether there’ll be leftovers

to go with le vin du Val de Loire.

That’s a masculine tipple

the dog won’t taste.

There’s Netflix for company,

that’s androgynous,

voluminous

for us.

Us men don’t complain.

A house divided is a house subsided,

the women retired to storylines,

men to their separate ways.

After all, what does an English Setter desire from his master who sits enthroned on a sofa

This dog begrudges nothing,

even monkfish tails roasted in Parma ham,

even goats’ cheese coated in pomegranate and cashew nuts,

even balls of something alongside beetroot and blackberries.

They can get sloshed on Vermentino

for all a couple of testosterone junkies care.

May they scoff La Brie et Le Bleu

Sauvages

Formages

Dommages

And when the women find tartes

tantalising

may they feel stuffed.

The jaw that rests on the carpet

is turned away from the piano

the girl of the house used to play

before her lessons.

She’s out tonight

drinking Capri Sun.

That’s one less woman at the table,

one less mouth for scoops of honeycomb ice cream from SuperValu or Liam Ryan or What-You-Ma-Call-Em.

This dog begrudges nothing,

unlike the women who vie for second helpings.

He pays no attention to the hunger of women,

unless they run out of wine,

start telling dirty jokes

or leave early.

Brutus of Troy Was Here

There was nothing cold about it.

The vitality in its veins

moved in time

with my blood pressure.


It was always so.


There was fire within its walls

from the start,

since the first sod was turned.


It flows all night.

There were ashes glowing

as I flew in and slipped back to nest

inside the city

where strangers become mates.

It will be told.

There’s a world washed by fresh water

flooded by émigrés from Earth.

O River Thames,

tributary,

you’ve nourished us all.

I left my soul behind

I went abroad in Moanbaun woods last nightThe air was crispy sharp and stars alight
Out of the shadow of an old oak tree
stumbled a tall figure following me.
‘ You’ve left your soul behind your back’ she groaned
‘That weight you bore from birth and never owned
it cost a fierce fortune to germinate
and raise from seed divine now rests in state.’ Underground, earthworms slept on roots below
surface, undisturbed by an angel’s flow.
My body freed from care in time for life
Immortal pest intestate cast without a strife. So all I crave and relish on this crust
is Liberty that rises from the dust.