Something you might be interested n if you live in Gloucestershire.

Poems and a Pint

An evening of poems, songs, stories and music

Saturday, 17 September 2016

at Tirley Village Hall GL19 4EU

8.00pm (doors open at 7.30pm)

Bar and refreshments and raffle

Entry - £3.00 per person. Free entry for people taking part

Proceeds in aid of refugees (GARAS)

WE WOULD WELCOME YOUR CONTRIBUTION BY READING

YOUR FAVOURITE POEM OR PIECE OF PROSE,

DISPLAYING YOUR MUSICAL TALENT OR JUST BEING

THERE TO SUPPORT US.

For more information and to book a place in the programme,

contact Alma O’Boyle 01452 780391 or Shaun 07866256494

GARAS (Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers) offers

support to those seeking asylum in Gloucestershire, welcoming them when

they arrive, advocating for them in their daily struggles, supporting them if

they face being sent back as well as helping them adjust to their long term

future if they are recognised as refugees.

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‘In Your Own Words’ Poetry Group'.

Will meet on the last Wednesday of the month, between 5pm and 7pm in the bar at The Roses Theatre, Sun St. Tewkesbury.

Come at 5pm for the workshop and open mic or at 6pm for the open-mic only. Bring a few poems of your own to read, or just listen to other peoples. All welcome.

£3.admission for workshop and open-mic

£2. Admission for open mic only.

£2. Admission for Retired, Disabled or non-working for both combined.

My latest collection of poetry 'Flying Through Houses' is now available. Find it on the Indigo Dreams Publishing website, details above, or in any good book store.

Flying Through Houses has been described as ‘touching, intriguing, unexpectedly lovely’by Alison Brackenbury  and 'full of wry wit and humour, a fine sense of irony and a clear eye for the memorable image' by Angela France

 Miki Byrne- Writing History.  
          I have been writing for many years. I am the author of three collections of poetry-'Nice bits and Hissy-fits'  'Mackerel Sky' and 'Flying Through Houses' I have won prizes for my work and judged poetry competitions. I have read/performed my work on TV, radio and at many festivals. You can also hear me on You Tube. Just type my name into Google to see more details. I have run poetry workshops for poetry societies and for schools. Over 170 respected poetry magazines and anthologies have included my poems and I have had 12 short stories published to date. (I am working on improving that).Other things I have done are; read at poetry festivals such as Ledbury and Cheltenham and many other venues including The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham. I am a contributor to Poems In the Waiting room, a joint NHS/Arts council initiative and I am a member of the People Bank held by the charity Arthritis Care. I write for them when asked. I have proof-read a magazine and I was the tenant Member of The Board for a large Housing association for three years, representing Disabled tenants. This gained me experience in areas of which I had no previous knowledge. I also lived on a Narrow-boat for many years.  I toured the canal and river system of England twice. It was a fantastic experience and one which gave me great inspiration for writing.  Before becoming registered disabled in 1989 I had many jobs, including  four careers. I was a dancer, a jeweller, a teacher and a musician. Since becoming disabled I have worked as a manager/percussionist in the music industry, setting up and promoting gigs etc. which I gave up when I went to live on the boat. It was at this point in the year 2000 that I decided to dedicate my time to writing. Unfortunately my health continued to deteriorate and I moved back to the land in 2003.I take my writing seriously and try to improve it by carrying out writing exercises, some I have devised myself and some I find on the Internet. I am a member of Buzzwords, Well Versed and Poetry Cafe, all groups that read and promote the joy of poetry.

I am currently involved in setting up a poetry group at The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury and I am liaising with The Roses and Cheltenham Poetry Festival to add Tewkesbury's theatre to their list of participating venues. I am also involved with Bookworms Bookshop Tewkesbury, helping to promote poetry events. I shall be reading there on Valentine's day February 14th 2016.


I hope that you will enjoy the poetry and stories on this site. If you wish to contact me to comment on anything you have read here, then please email me on mikiandharry@yahoo.com

Education.

I left school with a handful of 'O'levels. Went to college and gained four 'A' levels and attended the foundation course at Bournville Art School in Birmingham. I then gained a place at Birmingham Polytechnic(now The University of Central England) where I gained an Honours Degree in Three-Dimensional Design specialising in Jewellery and Silver-smithing. I also gained my Gold License. I later attended Wolverhampton Polytechnic where I gained a Post-Graduate Degree in Education. I was a visiting Lecturer and Tutor at Bournville Art School, Farnham College of Technology and Wolverhampton Polytechnic. I have also taken nine Creative Writing courses run by the W.E.A. Whilst working in a comprehensive school in Birmingham I taught Woodwork, Metalwork and Technical Drawing. I also taught clubs for Jewellery Making. General Craft. Modern Dance and Girls Self-Defence.

 Miki trivia. My Grandparents were English/Jewish and Irish/French. I think my creativity comes from the Irish influence. 

Here is a selection of my poems.

-----------------------

The poem below was included on the website of BBC's weatherman 

Richard Angwin

 Here is the Feather Forecast.

 In forests there will be a hoot of Owls,

spreading out to certain barns and wooded places.

Whilst coastal areas will see Gulls sweeping in

in a dense fog of white.

These will blow ashore with the occasional smattering

of Tern and Guillemot.

Further inland, low pressure will deliver

a depression of crows to most areas.

There is a severe feather warning to all towns and cities.

As heavy squalls of pigeons move onto high buildings.

In the countryside blizzards of starlings will

make visibility difficult for a short time

                                                                                                  while an anabatic flow of Canada Geese      

will hover over hills with a gradual move toward the south.

There is a possibility of low clouds of Magpies

backing to the west and an incoming cold front

will ruffle all blackbirds.

In the east, Grebes Bitterns and Godwits

will sweep over the fens, swiftly breaking up

as they meet warm air coming up from the south west.

All rivers will see a continuing flash of Kingfishers,

with a flurry of swans along the banks.

Meanwhile there may be a slow precipitation of finches

and all gardens will have a slight scatter of sparrows.

And that is the forecast for today. 

 

A Lipstick Called “Matador”.

 On the floor lay a lipstick called ‘Matador’.

I opened it. Swivelled it out of its case

into a small phallus. Red as blood.

Bright as its namesake’s cape. I pictured a face.

Saw the smear of colour as it slicked over

the soft cushion of lower lip. Delicately marked

the vee of cupids bow. I wondered how many times

it had glossed a pout. Or sketched a smile,

to enhance white teeth, or maybe not so white.

I see a woman grimacing. Snarling into the mirror

in case a stray smudge has smeared her teeth.

She rubs the mark away with a matching red-tipped finger.

Then drops the slim black tube into her bag.  

Amongst the receipts for Tesco and boots, her car keys

and phone, in a cute little leopard-skin case.

I think of what she might have said. Words swallowed

and regurgitated to other people.

Carried from work vocabulary to street talk.

Morphing into endearments as her mood changes.

I saw her scarlet smile stride into a boardroom.  

Her heels tapped out the Morse code of confidence.

And I wondered if that lipstick helped her to progress?

To happily air kiss colleagues and plant a sloppy imprint

Upon her loved ones cheeks. Or was it just the bright colour

of bravado. To hide the shaking of her hands

And the nervous sweat that streaked her back?

Printed in The bow wow shop Magazine. 2012.



Autumn Equinox by the Beach. 

The wind was in full throat, ragged and raw.

Birds struggled squawking into the unforgiving sky.

Great waves hunched their glassy backs. Stretched.

Then hammered themselves against great anvils of rock.

Shaggy flecks of spume exploded, drifted back

into the surge and thrash of waves.

Fine threads of lightning blued the curdled clouds

as they bunched in thick knots, to be torn ragged

by furious gusts. Rain fell from all angles. Came at us

from every side. Landed like a box of needles

thrown into the air, to fall back and pierce the tender skin

of faces, backs of hands. The roar of wind and waves

thundered into our ears. Chased us toward shelter.

Prodded us forward with blades of fierce air.

Rain was buckshot against the roof and the whole house shook.

We hunkered down, resigned to waiting it out.

With a hot toddy on the stove and waterproofs by the door.

Just in case.

 

A Dream with Conscience.

 The dream breathed out a sigh.

Saddened by its dark form.

It could not choose its clothing

when emerging from its random

nightly birth. Its nightmarish garb

 had caused a lake of fear and its

guilt was a sharp probe needling

under its skin. As it flowed away

from the weeping child it hoped

that it would not have to visit again.

 

The Ghosts of Peripheral Vision.

 

I only see them when I am not looking.

When my gaze is forward they shimmer

on the very edge of sight. As if vision is

a transparent tunnel and they press

like waifs against the walls.

Sometimes there may be a slither.

Like a spider edging across the floor.

Or an amoebic floating from left or from right

but never at the same time. Often a mere

quickening of space. A shimmer of colour

reflected upon the airs transparency.

Gentle swirls hover just on the curve of my eye.

Always flowing out of reach when I search for them.

Then there is the darker smudge. That blurs

in a disembodied hover. As if ash has been smeared

over molecules of oxygen and I can see their shape

in the way a brass rubbing enhances graven marks.

These insubstantial intruders catch on the circumference

of a breath. Yet as I move my head, they ripple away.

Like fishes in the sea of another dimension. Dreamy,

cool, innocuous. The ghosts of peripheral vision.

 

 Chain of Evidence


 They said if I had not been sent spiraling

through the air. To land in a crack of bones

and the shimmering confusion of concussion.

They would not have found him.

If the car had not been dragged to the pound

like a wounded beast and scrutinized.

The package would not have been discovered.

There in its accidental hiding place.

It held the unique whorls of prints.

Those unnoticed smudges of molecular transference.

Trace evidence rose ghostly under chemicals and lights.

Microscopically examined to yield its secrets.

Clever forensics gave up information.

Science displayed magical revelations.

The driver it seems had only given him a lift.

A random act of kindness that left him carrying unknown clues

and multiple bruises. And so they traced him.

A career criminal. Grown careless in his confidence.

Who could not trust his pockets. So a series of events twisted

like a chain through time. 

With me at one end and he at the other. 

 

Today. 

A day like a jigsaw.

Some pieces do not fit.

But those that do

Are mainly blue sky. 

 

A Small Act of Defiance.

 

The overalls were blue. Washed to faded shadows

like pieces of captured sky.

They fell into folds worn into their own memory.

The boots were hard. Toe-tecting bulbous humps

that crouched upon his feet-like pigs noses

with mud and diesel layered thick upon them.

Souvenirs of demolition sites. Stomped over

through unrelenting days of graft.

His shirt was sometimes frayed.

Laundered to a threadbare softness.

His hands showed his trade in the contour lines of grease

that circled his knuckles and defied soap and bristle.

Yellow stains of nicotine wrapped fingers

used to crooking round a snooker cue

and the smell of Brylcream would waft from his thick hair.

Always kept military neat.

He would sometimes feel dark and twisted. 

Plagued by flashbacks and thoughts of the bayonet

kept under the pillow. He would often be hung-over.

Dying for a lunch-time pint to resurrect the euphoria

of last night’s skin-full. Some days he would be bored

with mooching round the yard. Waiting at the foreman’s will

for work to be allocated. Knowing but never saying,

that the Irish were given last and that ‘paddy’

was a label he loathed.  He and ‘da boys’ would trade

tall tales and Woodbines.

 Yet, the dickie-bow was always in place.

Rakish, incongruous. The colour of red roses.

It sat beneath his stubbled chin and shone like a beacon

across the dull wasteland of the site.

His proud ‘up yours’ to the world

and to all the gobshites he hated within it.



 Miki trivia. I lived on a Narrow-boat for many years and travelled the canal and river system of England twice. It was fantastic.


Coming Out.

At the end of my long comfort;  

wet suspending warmth, soft light  pinking

through stretched skin—something changes.

My cocoon ruptures, empties.

Membrane clings. Sticky, enveloping.

I am squeezed. Walls close in.

Force my head  into an opening, too tight.

 I hear wails of torment.  All is chaos.

Why am I being moved?

Who is screaming? My head hurts.

Viced unbelievably until I inch into light.  

Air is cool upon my damp head. I am in a new world.  

Dare not open my eyes. I am extruded,

squeezed even further, shoulders hunched

as small as they can go.

 Then a sudden hot rush expels me.

Light is blinding. I am scooped up. Limbs chilled, flopping.

Something opens my mouth. Clears fluid. I am wrapped,

can move my limbs, am placed upon a warm soft surface,

hear a familiar thudding, close my mouth over a sudden nipple. 

Wonder what has just happened. 


Coming Out was first printed in Indigo Dreams Dawncatcher magazine.


  Ballerina.

First Published in The Dawntreader and in The Pygmy Giant magazines


 In a high attic. Under the tilted apex,
She gazed out over the rooftops of Montmartre
And danced en pointe till her toes bled.
She held her arms out, curved like a bow.
Fingers curled as if to cup a vagrant bird.
The white skirt flared like a tulip about her knees.
The window darkened, slow as a dawning thought.
Cats called. Yowling across rain-slipped tiles
and blue clouds grazed the gibbous moon.
He did not come and she awoke.
To one teabag left in the tin
And half a digestive that crumbled like her dreams.

Each Phrase.

They read in bed.

Propped on pillows.

Lamps angle a discreet light

from either side-table.

They are comfortable, intimate.

Need no small talk.

He reads her paragraphs

from Zola or Graves.

She reads him poems

from her latest find.

They offer the words of strangers

to each other—like gifts.

They know that each phrase given means ‘I love you’.

Published by Indigo Dreams publishing. Feb . ’13.

 

 



 5th Love. 

The first was kind. A brick wall. Stolid and thoughtful.

Who never wanted more and was content to live in half-time.

The second led me through mathematical mazes.

Taking hexagonal routes to cross-legged meetings.

We would eat magic mushrooms and view the world in 3D.

The third was my James Bond. Spy-like with a mysteriousness

that lifted him over moral hurdles. His currency was secrecy

and he left as abruptly as he had arrived. With no trace left.

The fourth was a mixed up tried-too-hard seeker of sensation.

Spoilt by many sisters and lost in the shallows of his own head.

But you, the fifth and best are a distillation of what they all lacked.

You are my counterpart. Mirror. Soul-mate. My teacher and pupil.

You repaired what the others left damaged.  I hope that in time

your shine will be genuine nine carat and not mere gold-plating.



 Lost in Transit.

 

The reluctant post card struggled.

Squashed through the clenched teeth

of the letterbox.

Lay on the mat like a pale exhausted bird.

Limp, bent  from its world-wide travels.

It had journeyed from Rome to countries

that were blobs on a map. Places of dreams.

It held the last living molecules of him.

Tucked under the stamp.

Impressed into the unique whorls

of a fingerprint. It had travelled where he could not.

From before the distance in time. Before the accident,

the fruitless vigil. We had moved on, we thought.

In our sluggish

stagger through life.

Carrying our grief like suitcases. We had made progress.

Could look at the photographs again. Almost remembered

how to fix a smile onto our slack faces.

Up until this ghost of him that said.

‘Having a great time-be home soon’.

 First printed in Popshots Magazine . Jan ‘14


Arboretum In Sunlight.

Trees rose. Majestic,stately in their maturity.

Reached for the cerulean sky,

leaves lifted toward sunlight.

Closer to earth, saplings stretched.

Delicate, open palmed.

Light fell in Aldis lamp semaphore.

Kissed vagrant patches upon the earth.

flickered back, forth

to highlight fallen leaves,

last autumns crisp reminders,

tiny flowers each waiting

for a moment in the sun.

Shadows pooled at the base of oaks,

chestnuts.  Almost solid

in their dark intensity.

Contrast in random balance,

definite as a pop-art dress.

Moving swiftly as flowing water.

Delicate green accents,

dappled as a pointillist painting.

 

 


  

Blue Latex.

Enter the drug squad. Quiet, stealthy.

Plain clothes and hand-cuffs.

Blue latex pulled tightly over flexing fingers.

Standing in a group.  Talking soft as a breeze.

Men and women waiting.  Outside a house

with drawn blinds and a look of closed eyes.

Early morning but not like on TV.

No door battering, yelling, pushing posse.

No screaming response. Half at the front.

Half at the back. Door opens upon a silent shuffle.

A sleepy half-struggle ensues.

Bare chest and gritty eyes

A hand with splayed fingers rests upon

a close-cropped head.

Guides him into the back of the car.

A slow drive off. Blinds are raised.

The morning sun enters on the heels of the police.

Glimpses of lifted articles flash like items at an auction.

Privacy is forfeit .The search is in full spate.

In the distance, the car continues its grumbling progress

into the soft summer day.

The door has closed behind them

before the rest of the street is awake.

Things I have found In Books.

.Once I found a ticket for a bus

for a route unknown to me but numbered 46

and once another for the theatre.

I imagined footlights on red velvet and people in disguise.

Then a list for shopping. Mundane items quickly scribbled

and another of things to do, purposeful and bold.

I once found a photo of an unknown girl.

Smiling in half-profile and probably much missed.

There was a pressed flower with petals pale and tissue thin

its stem withered and sapless.

Once a leaf faded down to a brown tracery of veins,

lacy as gauze on a bridal veil.

Then there were the amoeba shaped blobs-ketchup, butter-

sticking pages together so that I had to prise them gently apart

and guess the words that had scabbed off. Ruined

by those too entranced to release the book while they ate.

A length of ribbon, green and shiny and a cigarette paper.

Pearly, delicate as a moths wing.

Sometimes a waft of fragrance will rise from these things and place

like fixative a snapshot in my mind.

Occasionally there are bookmarks printed with a pretty scene

or floral design by Morris or Mucha. Used by someone who cares

and I must admit to keeping these. I should collect all these things

and make a museum of the flat and discarded.

 

Bright Offerings. 

 They are Cellotaphs.

Those bright offerings left by the roadside.

Tended in all weathers. Alongside lanes and motorways.

 They lie in small heartrending shrines.

With candles, photographs, other memorial items

befitting age and gender.

They sit, blasted by dust, Grimed by emissions,

glazed by rain. Embodying grief in heartfelt, sentimental,

genuine, mawkish expression—and in relatives homes,

they dust a photo, re-decorate a room. As hearts close doors.

Shrink back into the kaleidoscope of everyday life.

As the cars drive by and by and by.


Christening at St Mary Magdalene’s

 In the church, sunlight slants through coloured saints.

Paints the floor in rainbows. A flower sentry

made by earnest ladies, stands tall by the door, Scents the air

with its blooms. The child, offered to Christ, waves a pudgy  hand.

Starfish fingers flex. Waved artfully in a burgeoning spirit

of performance. She grins a tiny-toothed mouth, oblivious to all

but the adoration. While a bored boy chews gum and an Aunt

remarks sotto-voce about lack of respect.

Men in funeral suits sit in unaccustomed smartness,

with dandruff speckled shoulders and a finger pulling at a collar.

Their wives appreciate the opportunity to wear something new,

Yet fear to see their own outfit approaching, worn by someone

younger, prettier. One elderly couple are keen on architecture,

gaze with stretched necks at ugly-face bosses, the brave arches

of the ceiling.

The child’s Grandmother talks through half of the ceremony.

Her pride armours against the shushing stares, the fidgets

of affronted congregants. Soon, it is done. The name sealed

in Christian words. The photos taken. The Grandmother bustles,

herding folk towards a buffet, a gin and tonic

and a chance to remove her shoes.

The child plucks at her white dress and laughs.

Miki trivia. I have been registered disabled since 1989.

This poem was a  runner up in the Gloucester Writers Competition 2013.  It also featured in my article ‘Of Bricks and Mortar’ written for prof. Carl Chinn’s Brummagem magazine, Aug. ’13.

Coal Thieves.

 We pushed the barrow down, along the slope of the hill.

Past the great curve of the gasometer.

The air stank—left a slight sulphurous haze

over the winter frost.

A pale yellowish sheen beaded like mist

along metal railings, the gasometers bulbous side.

We jiggled the loose plank by the canal bridge.

Swung it on one rusty nail, left the barrow

and squirmed through. Great piles of coal loomed.

Textured like conical scaly beasts.

Some black, shiny as obsidian

alongside  greying porous clumps of coke,

then anthracite and the new ‘smokeless’ stuff

no one believed in. We passed clumps hand to hand,

with one eye roving. Ears pricked for a yell of discovery.

We didn’t take much. The barrow was too feeble.

Ma condemned stealing and the hill was a long push back.

But the grate would roar for at least two nights,

Ma would smile and we would have cocoa before bed.

 Age.

Age erodes and abrades the outer shell,

Brings frailty, fatigue,

And sometimes an absent-minded fumbling

But like a jewel kept in a battered box

The mind and soul still shine

Expand and grow,

Despite the occasional eccentric mumbling.

Experience and wisdom have such value

And the outside trappings

And wrinkled wrappings mean nothing.

Age can deplete, wear down and tire

But inside still burns the integral fire.

A couple of short stories 

 Xenophobia.   By Miki Byrne.

     Professor Brenda Snead leaned the small black pull-along case against the wall.  She pressed the switch to turn the kettle on and sank onto the chair that was half tucked under the plain pine table. Thank God she was home.  It had been bad enough that she had had to leave her familiar laboratory to attend the convention in Prague. Worse to have to present her paper to the mixed bag of delegates but the flights! The flights had been by far the most nerve wracking.

     She shifted her ample bulk into a position of greater comfort and pushed her large dark-framed spectacles further along her small but fleshy nose.  It had all been awful. How she hated other people. She disliked those who she knew but strangers were loathed and despised as simply unknown intruders into her world. Brenda hated their proximity, the smell of them. Even the expensively perfumed and after-shaved left her feeling revolted.  They always needed to talk.  She felt that no-one knew the power and serenity of silence. The absolute pleasure and satisfaction of pure thought

     On the outward journey the man who sat next to her had wanted to chat. Not only that but he had done so in a manner that was flirtatious. Brenda had no time for such trivial social interludes. She had found his approach fatuous in the extreme. She was plain and she actively cultivated that plainness.  She paid only lip-service to her appearance by keeping clean but never visited a hairdresser or cared about what she wore. Her hair frizzed out in a dark nimbus around her head and her clothes were only ever bought in shades of brown. Brenda was overweight and content with it. She used and valued her brain and saw her body only as a vehicle within which she could transport her intellect.  She had glared at the man from behind her thesis “The Extended Use of Plant Toxins in Microbiological Delivery”.  He was oblivious to her distain and even a curt 

     “Do you mind? I'm busy” did little to deter him.  Brenda had sat feeling uncomfortably claustrophobic.  Conscious of the smallness of the metal tube in which she was travelling and of the fixed windows that gave her a tantalizing glimpse of the fresh air and space outside, yet, allowed no access to it.  She felt stifled, uncomfortable and the seat did not accommodate her weight easily. Her thighs rubbed together and her ankles had swollen giving her an even greater sense of discomfort. She had the ridiculous feeling of having somehow been inflated. Being fully aware of the medical details did nothing to ease the feeling. The man next to her, who was no oil painting himself, had made it known that he had no time for ‘skinny women who live on lettuce.’  He thought he was being solicitous. Brenda knew that he was being offensively intrusive. She felt trapped beside him.  As the flight progressed he had taken his jacket off to reveal half moons of perspiration darkening his shirt under his arms then, when he had dosed off, his snores had reverberated in her ears preventing her from either sleeping or thinking.  She sat through the inane in-flight movie with gritted teeth and a sense of mounting annoyance that came very close to the first red simmering of rage.

     Brenda had been intensely glad when the plane had landed. She had disembarked and finally been ensconced in her small but spotless hotel room near the University campus.  Her presentation at the University of Prague had been well-received.  She had blushed at the compliments bestowed and had glowed from the respect shown to her by academics who led in their own fields of study. She had returned to her room smiling with satisfaction. Brenda had still been wrapped in the warm vestiges of that feeling as she manoeuvred herself into her seat for the return flight the next evening.  Then, to her horror, the same awful plebeian little man had flopped down next to her and began a determined attempt to renew their acquaintance.  The journey had passed in the same sense of unease and distress as before except this time her irritation hardened into a solid and deep dislike of the thick-skinned moron who was intruding on her space and thoughts.  She loathed him for breaking her warm and rosy mood and for giving her a reprise of the outward flight.

    As she stirred her tea Brenda recalled looking out of the huge window that gave a view onto the runway. She had paused in her effort to drag her wheeled case for a second.  An Ambulance had been speeding dramatically toward the plane she had so recently left. She could see the stroboscopic effect of its lights and hear the distinctive wailing of its siren.  Brenda smiled in grim satisfaction.  The two drops of clear and undetectable liquid she had dripped into the man’s Vodka while he slept had had the desired effect.  That was the beautiful thing about science she thought happily. You could always find just the right substance for the job.

First published in 'Cynic' on-line Magazine. 2009.

 

Returning.   By Miki Byrne.                                                        

     David Garland pushed his fingertips into his temples.  He felt woozy. Blinked as if waking from a deep sleep.  Why was he standing outside the residency where his daughter lived?  Disorientation washed over him. There was no memory of driving here.  Yet, amongst the fragmented thoughts he knew he had to be somewhere. The urgency of this knowledge was at odds with his dazed and stumbling mind. Perhaps if he sat down with Julianne for a minute his head would clear. He had a deadline to keep. Surely a minute wouldn't hurt. Things felt so dislocated and fatigue seeped along every limb.He pressed the bell with Juliannes name on it.  Although the college was only on the other side of town Julianne had wanted her independence and he and Jackie had respected that.  There was no sound of a doorbell and time ticked by governed by his strange internal need to be moving.

     David walked round to her window, second along, ground floor. Juliannes’ blind was up and in a lamps glow he could see her, his lovely, intelligent daughter, hunched over her keyboard. In the distance a siren howled, melancholy in its rise and fall. David tapped the window.

     Jules, Jules! It’s me. C’mon’.  She had the small earpieces of her MP3 player plugged into her head. She couldn’t hear him.The urge, the need to be somewhere swamped him again. God. Why couldn't he remember? Knuckling his eyes he stumbled on. As he walked the dizziness ebbed and flowed like the waves of a spring tide flinging itself upon the empty beach that was his memory. It seemed like no time before he realized he was standing outside his ex-wife’s house.

     Surely, this wasn't where he was planning on coming? Sure, he and Jackie still had a good friendship but he couldn't remember arranging to meet her tonight.  It was as if someone had taken scissors to his thoughts and left him with only the tiny scraps that had fallen to the floor. His head seemed to be floating as if it were detached from his neck. The knock on Jackie’s door gained no response, so, as he had with Julianne, he walked to the window and tapped hard on the pane.  Jackie was on the settee. Her friend Paula was beside her and judging by the wine, chocolates and a box of tissues they were having one of their girly chic-flick nights.

     He must have got it wrong.  She would never have invited him round on...what day was it? He struggled to grasp the day but it slid away from him like a fish through weeds of amnesia. Why can’t I remember!  He was near to tears. Did I pass out, get plastered drunk? Did someone spike my drink? Maybe he had stopped off for one with Gary after work. He just didn't know and that urgent ‘got to be somewhere’ feeling enveloped him with such power that he tore his eyes away from the window and pushed himself to go on. In the distance, the siren swelled on the air, coming closer.

     It felt like a mere eye-blink before David found that he was on the M5 slip road a quarter-mile from his home, in the middle of the road. The air-stream of an ambulance passed him, siren in full throat. It pushed him onto the verge. Brake lights glowed ahead of him. David hurried forward, his head felt clearer yet more muddied at the same time. Here. This was his destination. Ahead, an articulated lorry was skewed at an angle blocking the slip-road with a blue car twisted grotesquely under its cabin. The car looked familiar and beside it on the glistening tarmac lay a body. Two Paramedics strode purposefully forward. They and David arrived together. As he stood at the body’s feet he felt faint, as if he were in the first surreal seconds of an anaesthetic. He began to fall forward, landing with unexpected and exquisite gentleness upon the corpse. Instead of horror he felt a seconds’ sense of arrival, of being where he needed to be.  Then he heard the Paramedic say

‘This one’s DOA Steve. Better call it in.                        First published in The Pygmy Giant online Magazine 2010.

  

What Neil Armstrong Might Have Thought.

The training took its toll. We expected  that.

Accepted the harsh, sometimes puzzling regimes.

When we launched I was ready—as ready as a man can be

to face  riding a bomb into the sky, of maybe never returning.

Being lost in the infinite. We had too much to do to brood.

Yet we discussed things in our down-time—families.

What we wanted from life. What we might find out there.

Yet when I stepped through that hatch. Placed my foot

on the grey powder of the moon’s surface, saw galaxies swirl

in the space around me, my heart swelled with the pride of a nation.

I gazed about me with awe. Felt like falling to my knees.

Saw the great perspective of life place me

amongst the tiniest molecules. For one second,

I felt like God. Then realized that this was created

by something far bigger.  Space has greater stature

than any concept mere humans might embrace.

Miki trivia. During the early 70's I was a Go-Go- dancer and worked in a troupe called The Bailey Girls. We danced in clubs all over the Midlands and I met such people as The Hollies, Bruce Forsyth, Lulu and many other stars of the time. 

First  Night at the Albion.   

I listened from outside,

Washed by a strangers hesitancy.

Peered through a grimy window.

Heard jamming on the air.

Rhythms pulled at me like strings.

I caught your eye. Carried my drum.

Over the threshold .Felt my own beats

and with the slightest raise of eyebrow,

I dodged the hunched shoulders

of hostility, slid through the xenophobia.

Sat between the voice and the Banjo.

My hands flew.  Woke the song.

Joined streams of sound with yours.

Bent the silence into beauty.

Until the acknowledging smiles

Wrapped me in acceptance.

 

Miki trivia. I worked as a teacher for many years in an inner-city school in Birmingham. I taught Woodwork, Metalwork, Technical Drawing and general design. Prior to this I was a jeweller and I trained at Birmingham's famous Vittoria St premises, part of the University of Central England. 

 

Peace Poem

 I am not a fearsome warrior,

Yet I am the feather-weight

of cloud-shadow shifting.

I am not iron

But I am the soft sand gently sifting.

I am not a burial chamber,

Yet hold within the lives of generations.

I am not a foreign language,

Yet converse with those of many nations.

I am not bitter

As with the taste of aloes

But hold in my mouth wood-smoke

and marshmallows.

I am not a blade,

That slides you into death

I am the gentle breeze,

That gives a whispered breath.

I am not visited by the recent dead,

But walk through tombs without fear or dread.

I am not a war that leaves many deceased

I walk in freedoms footsteps

and only long for peace.

 First printed in LPezine.

 




Eulogies.

Death promotes one to heights of character never actually attained.

Eulogies endow one with traits our living selves would not have ever claimed.

So before I pass my last and feeble breath. I should aspire to be the person they will think I am. 

After my death.

Death In a Flood.

 The ghost in the willow hovered upon its bending branch.

Peering at its physical self.

 At that cold blue body that rolled limply away into the rising river.

The body had clung for hours.

 Frozen fingers grasped hard in deathly drunken terror.

The voice had screamed in panic.

 Howled for rescue that did not come. 

The ghost in the willow hung on. 

Bemusedly trying to grasp what had sent it flying

 from its corporeal self. Its mind was muddied. A sickly haze

of alcohol still clung to its ethereal being.

 Memories of arrogant assertions crept back like cringing dogs.

The body had been warned.

 Had chosen not to listen. Could not even swim and had wrapped

its arms around the Willow,

 as water inexorably rose. It had held and held as strength drained away. 

Exhaustion and cold had done the rest.

 The ghost in the willow knew it would always cling to the rough bark 

and rue the bodies recklessness forever.

    

Drumming Without Sticks.

She doesn't wear jewellery when she drums .No rings on the fingers or on the thumb.

Gone are bracelets that hang and dangle. Wears no silver or plastic bangle.

She won’t have fabric that rumples up and rolls the sleeve or turns the cuff,

to expose her arm from elbow to nail.To allow the flex and controlled flail of the skin.

 She keeps her hands free and poised,stripped down to create that rhythmic noise.

And of course, she likes to sit,no need to carry the weight of it.

So a skirt that flares in gypsy fashion uncovers her legs for drumming action

and bare thighs grip and feel the hum that courses through the living drum.


With Djembe placed between her knees,she  gives the drum a gentle squeeze

And tips it slightly off the ground,to open it up, magnify sound.

Then sitting in a Cellist stance she slaps the drum and makes the dance.

As skin on skin impact like kisses primitive rhythms bring trance-like blisses.

 Skin of her hands and skin of her thighs both cradles and beats the drum as it cries.

Then at the end of tempo and beat when blood has flowed making body heat,

and hands that tingle from friction and slap lie quietly now upon her lap.

She feels that giving up fashions style has been so good, so very worthwhile.


                                                 For her skill made the quiver and thrum and coaxed the language from her drum.                                                                                                                                         

Delirious

 In fever dreams the monsters came.

I thrashed and struggled for release

But could not wake.

Their fiery breath scorched and scoured me

Until, in my writhing

I thought my back might break.

 They laughed and shrieked

Stared with maddened eyes

And raked me with their claws.

Then took hold and ground my bones

So agonisingly

In their slavering jaws.

Such creatures, grotesque and cruel

So full of vitriol and spleen.

For once escaped from hell

To come see me in my fever dreams.


this poem was written after a bout of pneumonia when my temperature had spiked to an enormous degree.

 This poem won the Poetry Kit award for Poems and publishers. Jan. 2012.

 

                                                                                                                           Left Handed.

Your hands are larger than mine.

With business-like nails and veins

that slide down between the tendons,

blue-grey and still as the canals

between venetian streets.

The web between thumb and forefinger

is soft, yet could hold a robin’s egg

hammocked there in safety,

without a tremor to disturb it.

Your fingers have strength.

Picking through newly dug potatoes

that you bring to me in triumph.

Holding out your left hand

while dark soil sifts and follows your footsteps

as if the garden would keep you for a longer time.

Left-handed people have different skills you smile

flexing fingers like a crab.

Then gently touch my face and delicately tweeze

a leaf from my hair.

And in the evenings silence

you slide music into the air.

Playing a guitar that lies the wrong way

and coaxes the last sigh out of the day.

This is the link to buy my new collection. Details below. Have a look at my Author page:http://www.indigodreamsbookshop.com/#/miki-byrne/4574412491

 

 Man in the Garden.

You don’t see me watch you.

Cast my eyes in slow caresses

over your skin. Lay upon

that delicious thickness of wrist,

sinewed brown forearms.  

A rolled back sleeve invites me,

offers a soft, elbow hollow,

rhythmic pulse of vein

that carries your hearts blood.

I know how to make it quicken, pound,

snatch your breath.

The nape of your neck entices.

Warm space that accepts my lips

so easily.

Holds a tang of salt, ghost of plain soap.

I see the tender spot behind your ear.

Imagine your warm-skin fragrance,

a hint of the outdoors.

Subtle absorption of grass, herbs,

a brown sip of soil.

My tongue recalls that menu,

curls its bouquet back into my mouth.

I am spell bound by the textures of you;

shadow of stubble, defining jaw line,

an artist’s last emphatic stroke.

Soft hair, eyelash curves half-mooning,

beneath eyes of lake-like depths.

They have mirrored me in lust, love, comfort.

An echo of remembrance tingles

in my fingertips. Moistens my lips.

Memory of the last time we touched,

anticipation of the next.