Moon Child

Once in a while you excel yourself.
Are you blue, because we thought no more of you
as the driving force for life on Earth
or potency behind the waves of bitches and whelps.
Thrilling moments … or contemplative
of a thriving, muddy, salty, riverine universe of life
waiting for you to draw the pelagic
covers repeatedly over the fruits of sustenance.

A force of nature, fully formed
yet so much smaller than the mother of your birth,
you hold sway, in countless ways
you touch our lives and drive us through our days.
Humble, unassuming, even unnoticed
by those who hurtle, mindlessly, and make no time
for the wisdom of our insignificance
or feel the difference between our age and yours.

As necessity tramples over truth
most days, we hide in fear of the darkening,
of the madness that ensues.
Does not the hunter choose your waning dark
to spike the nervous memory,
and remind us of the untamed wolf pack?
We may not ever tame you
but your mother is dying a slow and painful death.

Oh super blood blue moon,
does not your God and our God sing the same tune?

© 2018 John Anstie

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Sunday

Walking home from church.

Like seeing the sun rise
over the week ahead,
mind full of penitence,
a righteous child, wrapped
in reverential warmth and
a sense of duty fulfilled.

That place of comfort,
as short lived as chocolate,
such pleasure lies in this;
some selfless, priceless
kind of self-indulgence
in your own kind of God.

Who can resist that path
to an easier peace where,
one day a week, the ad-man
cannot get to you; where
you miss nothing; where
those urges play no part.

Where has Sunday gone?

© 2018 John Anstie

Posted in Culture, Free Verse, Hope, nostalgia, poem, poetry, Preachy, Religious, Shopaholism, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The Horizon Written … A New Musical Composition

A new composition from composer, Joseph Alen Shaw, is indicative of a man of considerable musical talent, who doesn’t let the grass grow under his feet. Not for the first time, has he used poetry to inspire musical composition. Last year I was flattered that he asked me to write a brief text on the seasonal theme of Autumn. The haiku triplet was beautifully woven into a song by some alchemical musical magic and is here. This also appeared in the October ‘Music’ themed edition of the BeZine.
The title of his new piece, he explains, was taken from the text of poem, “As at the Far Edge of Circling” by Ed Roberson. In my view, the music fits well with the text of the whole poem. You can judge for yourself.
The new composition, The Horizon Written, was commissioned by musician, Elliott Walker, the Church Organist at St Paul’s Rotherham in the UK, specifically for their Festival of Remembrance, which was held last November. Joseph’s own words in his blog, best describe it. The blog also contains a live recording of the music. The link to his blog is at the start of this paragraph).
I hope you enjoy his music as much as I do.
John

 

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A Voice in The Wilderness

(For Harry)

Metastasising senses
forever unfathomable
darkening eyes, off to visit
another place in the long grass.

You ferret out your quarry.
So many lives you follow
to play with once again,
returning each night to your bed.

We helped you on your way
to renew your acquaintance
with old hunting grounds
sans malice or judgement.

Behind my eyes, a flash, a jolt,
involuntary convulsing silent cry,
recurring hurt, as you let go
you neither sense my guilt, nor hear …

Vox clamantis in deserto

___________________
© 2018 John Anstie

[Harry ‘Tigger’ Potter was a handsome lithe 17+ year old tabby tom cat. Until very recently he was, to all intents still fit and active. It was only in his last few days that we realised something wasn’t right and even within his last 24 hours, after examination by and some bad news from the vet when he wandered round every corner of the surgery, probably looking for a way out, that he went down hill very rapidly. Within 12 hours of finding him the following morning and very unsteady on his feet, did the metastases from his liver course in his blood to his brain, causing us to respond in the only way it was possible to be kind to him. For many years, he was king of the jungle around here, but was always happy to sit on my wife’s lap and purr loudly every evening; he was, nonetheless, a good natured, thoroughgoing cat’s cat.

By way of a further footnote, ‘Vox claimants in deserto’, the translation of which means ‘A voice crying out in the wilderness’ – is the motto of Dartmouth College, one of the elite Ivy-League colleges in the USA, which also happens to have been the alma mater of the poet, Robert Frost]

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The BeZine, October 2017, Vol. 4, Issue 1 , Music to the Eyes

Source: The BeZine, October 2017, Vol. 4, Issue 1 , Music to the Eyes

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Underneath The Stairs

P1100485

Wentworth Castle from the Parkland (Photo: John Anstie)

This tale is told by many tongues,
of now and yesteryear.
Three hundred years of life are here,
but memories disappear.

Between each line, a thousand words
of love, of heart and soul,
there’s mystery here, it must be said,
when tales remain untold,

they seed a search for history,
a sparkle in the eyes
of once romantic sons of yore;
a family’s demise.

Refrain:
And how their days would start at dawn
to sounds of clacking feet.
Underneath the stairs they’d run,
their serving paths to beat.

Stone dressed, these monuments became
far more than home sweet home,
for they withstood the test of time
in centuries to come.

And who could guess, in such a place,
we’d cast our eyes and, more,
write stories in organic dust,
of lives that went before.

Their toil, by standards of today,
would break, in half the time,
the backs of men and women who,
at forty, passed their prime.

[Refrain]

Faint tinkling of bone china plates
their masters’ breakfast fare,
the focus of their energies
to serve, make good, repair.

And all day long these duties pressed
their shoulders to the stone
all day, each week, each month, each year,
their lives were not their own.

No leisure time to recreate,
without upstairs’ consent.
With no spare time or energy,
their lives were paid as rent.

[Refrain]

No time allowed away from toil
save worship Sunday morn,
where duty bound them to this house,
all but their souls forsworn.

So much depended on their strength,
their duty, loyalty;
with half a day each week to rest
they earned their royalty.

They had to cast off any thought
of freedom, every day,
they bore their obligation and
they signed their lives away.

[Refrain]

P1110037


The Victorian Conservatory, beside the Victorian Wing (Photo: John Anstie)

Then, life meant building grander things
mere ornaments to scale,
denying the austerity,
when nation could not fail.

And here to glimpse humanity,
their own great compromise;
to fall from favour and love’s loss;
so too a great house dies

… and with it all dependant life,
no welfare scheme was theirs
for all of its inhabitants
underneath the stairs.

[Refrain]

And as his mansion starts to die,
the Earl sold on his lot,
the need for education rose
and a roof to stop the rot.

But here’s the final irony:
for those who served in fear
of losing jobs for which, today,
we freely volunteer.

This grand estate, these monuments
this house and gardens too
are all the product of an age,
restored and serving you.

Refrain:
And how their days would start at dawn
to sounds of clacking feet.
Underneath the stairs they’d run,
their serving paths to beat.

_CAS2970-106

The Cast inside the conservatory (Photo: Brian Parkhurst)

This landscape’s green and pleasant land
its rooted, verdant gold
captures all these mysteries
for you that we unfold.

The following is an edited extract from the whole piece, recorded in Dennis Tuckerman’s Cellar Studios on 21st April 2017. All music: composed, played with pick and bow on six-string bass guitar by Joseph Alen Shaw. Voice: spoken and sung by John Anstie.

Words: © 2013 John Anstie (lyric edited 2016).  Music: © 2016 Joseph Alen Shaw 

[ This lyric is based on an original ballad, written for this historic site, three years before, but never published until it was given its first outing last year. It was extensively edited and augmented for Joseph Shaw’s commission, the ‘Wentworth Cantata’, which was performed in the historic Victorian Conservatory of Wentworth Castle Gardens, South Yorkshire on 16th October 2016. This song was comprised of six cycles of four verses; each cycle consisting of two spoken and two sung verses, the last of which was a reiterated refrain ]

Posted in Ballad, Collaboration, Composition, conservation, History, Music, nature, nostalgia, poem, poetry | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Thousands and Millions

One hundred thousand
Poets for change,
so many voices and
carefully chosen words, seem
to be decaying into the void
of the anechoic chamber.

Earthly Fathers praying
for the Establishment,
that sets the stage
and casts its values
in concrete, steel,
plastic … and carbon.

Leaders of the World,
whose balance sheets and
rational, numerate intellect
measure only a notion
of success. What is that?
What is success?

For aren’t we just that,
a wealth of rich and
creative intelligence
that is the only hope
for our universe
to understand itself?

Heavenly Mothers ask us
why digitise and monetise
and worship at the alter
of the great god, Thworg,
when we are in the face of
richness beyond measure.

Escape to the stars, if you must,
but answers will be found not
in the vanity of space-time travel,
but here, with unaided vision
they lie in the green and blue,
right before your disbelieving eyes.

Permit your heart to rule
even if only one day a week, when
the visceral, and the common sense
can overrule logic and intellect, and
that subliminal noise in our head
will slowly awaken the conscience.

Maybe, one day we’ll be
Seven Thousand Million
Poets for Change!
Our time will come. Greatness beckons.
It’s in the wind, this beating heart,
a movement beyond the gaze of mortals …

© 2017 John Anstie
(All rights reserved)

[This is my tribute to the 100,000 Poets for Change – 100TPC 2017 – movement, which had its annual celebration on 30th September]

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Let The Rains Fall

“Water, water, every where
… Nor any drop to drink.”

If I should have enough to weep
some tears before we sink
into the deep … then

let the rains fall everywhere

where land is parched
where lips are cracked
where leaves are starched
and odds are stacked
agin the ones least able

to feel the rain upon their face

and cleanse decaying life
of toxic overload
and feed the food that’s rife
and rich as any lode
but for strife … and greed

that let the acid rain fall foul

… and cost us dear.

 

© 2017 John Anstie
All rights reserved.

[The first two lines are taken from “The Rime of The Ancient Mariner”, the most epic of his lyric ballads, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This was first published in the June 2017 edition of the BeZine]

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The Honeymoon’s Over

Spring’s promise of high summer
has passed, the lush greens gone,
and now less vibrant. Parched.
Stale somehow. Disappointing.

The promise so much sweeter
than reality; the heady warmth;
sun filled days and mirage haze
the balmy heat, hot naked nights.

We should enjoy this time, by rights
but if it brings us closer to the fall;
the Autumn of our life, if that is all
then can we not enjoy the cooling

promised winter chill, another world,
its yielding to the blacks and whites
mysterious greys, the icy haze,
the freezing hibernation, preserving.

But no. An earlier Spring, that comes
too soon, and sooner still the melting
Arctic ice. One day, there’ll be no more
dreaming of a summer honeymoon.

© 2017 John Anstie
All rights reserved.

Posted in conservation, environment, Fear, Global Warming, Hope, melancholy, nature, Pleasure, poem, poetry, sadness, Uncategorized, Weather | 11 Comments

Big Questions

They could not see
the end
of their noses
the end
of the last century
the end
of infantry and cavalry
of Boys Own battles
and yet they stand
today in ceremony,
the successors
and descendants
of those, who may have
invoked
supplied
and managed
this catastrophe,
with military pomp.

Somehow
it glorifies,
it excuses
it avoids
the actions,
the decisions,
the consequences
the tactical and
maybe strategic folly
the utterly desperate
and tragic outcome,
somehow …

And yet, how else
can we remember
those, who were,
without question,
persuaded to be brave
enough to give up
their lives
for a five mile
quagmire?

[This is the only way I can commemorate Passchendaele. Today, 31st July, is the centenary of the start of that horrendous battle. It raged for 100 days and took hundreds of thousands of lives. The oft spoken words: “We will remember them” are not enough any more. We should now be asking big and much more difficult questions]

© 2017 John Anstie
All rights reserved.

Posted in Death, Free Verse, poem, political, sadness, War | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment