Billy and The Angel

The angel sat on the edge of the trench smoking a cigarette as a new dawn rose over the ruined landscape.
‘There’s always someone worse off than you’ it said.
Billy looked around with the eye that he still had left to see.
The trench was full of mud and blood, most of which, observed Billy, was his.
‘I don’t see anyone’ he said.
‘Look harder’ said the angel.
‘My legs hurt’ said Billy.
‘That’ll be the legs that you no longer have’ said the angel.
A tear fell from Billy’s eye.
‘No use crying over spilt milk.’
Billy wiped the tear from his one eye with the one arm he had left.
‘God help me’ he said.
‘Praying for yourself now?’ said the angel, smiling, ‘Tut, tut.’
Billy despaired.
‘Give me a break, for fuck’s sake.’
‘Look’ said the angel, pointing, ‘over there.’
Billy strained his one eye in the darkness and saw, ten foot down the trench under a pile of wooden planks and body parts and broken ammunition boxes, something stir.
‘There you go’ said the angel.
‘There you go what?’ said Billy.
‘Someone worse off than you.’
‘Help me’ said a feeble voice, ‘please help me.’
‘Well go on’ said the angel to Billy, ‘do something.’
Billy looked with his one eye at the arm he no longer had left and the legs he no longer had and the blood all around him that was mostly his and said:
‘I’m sorry.
I can’t.’
‘Help me’ said the voice, ‘please help me.’
‘How the fuck’ said Billy to the angel, ‘is he worse off than me right now?’
‘It’s simple’ said the angel, blowing a cloud of smoke across the last star.
‘Nobody loves him.’
A warm wave washed over Billy’s heart and he remembered the sweet peas in his grandmother’s garden and the warm smell of home.
‘Oh’ he said.
‘Help me’ said the voice.
‘I’m here for you, brother’ said Billy.
‘Goodbye, Billy’ said the angel.
‘I’m here.’

© Gail Foster 30th July 2019

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Not In My Name

 

*

I wonder how she feels today

The Muslim girl I spoke to on the bus

The girl who had so many things to say

About how she feels free and safe with us

I wonder if today she feels the same

Dear child of the warm Damascan breeze

Cry God and Allah we are all the same

Not in my name, not in my name, please

*

© Gail Foster 23rd March 2017

Confetti; a Devizes wedding

Confetti; Kirstine Carr

Every year, during Carnival in Devizes, we have a Confetti Battle…

*

We dance in town, as bright confetti falls

Upon our hallowed ground, we move as one

The old and young among the market stalls

All blessed by Ceres and the setting sun

We move as one, we laugh, we catch the light

In coloured flickers deep within our eyes

A cloud of happiness, a merry flight

Of beautiful beribboned butterflies

We dance in town, bedecked like bridesmaids gay

Our hair all strewn with prettiness and joy

Our cares for one brief moment blown away

We move as one, man, woman, girl and boy

As, blessed by Ceres in her wedding gown

We all, as one, are married to our town

 *

Sonnet and photograph of Kirstine Carr

© Gail Foster 2016

 

Satire and The Soul

Kevan Manwaring, in his book The Bardic Handbook, suggests that we

satirise ourselves in order to see how it feels…

 

With satire comes responsibility

Thus spake the bard, regarding cosmic law

‘Tis true that thought and act and speech are free

But heed the truth learned by the bards of yore

What goes around and round will soon return

To that dark human place where it began

And pain shall be the lesson he shall learn

Who points his pen in anger at a man

Lest he forget, we none of us shine bright

That are not sullied by some silent shade

And he who seeks another man to slight

May curse the pen that bore the words he made

For what we see in others, we have known

Some simple human neediness or greed

The weakness we perceive is like our own

Who knows a tree that has not seen a seed

So satirise yourself, so spake the bard

Before you dare another man to mock

And turn upon yourself a light as hard

As that with which you wish a man to shock

Unshadow your shortcomings, write them true

Or fall upon your failings like a sword

For this is what you would to others do

And thine own self hast thine own pen ignored

Now weigh the pain you draw like blood from light

With cut of blade, of swift and vicious pen

Look down upon yourself from lofty height

As you would fain look down on other men

What do you see, but merely flesh and fear

A naked frightened soul that cries for love

All sorrow bound and clothed in darkness drear

With eyes up turned in hope to light above

Have pity, spake the bard, for every word

You wield will have the power to wound or heal

Remember what you here have seen and heard

Think twice before you cause a man to feel

The lacerations of your jagged wit

The schadenfreude of your savage ire

Lest you be made to join him in the pit

Lest you be so consumed in that same fire

He snuffed the candle flame, picked up his book

And left the poet, wise from sorrow shown

An unveiled mirror’s face in which to look

At imperfection that was his alone

 

With satire comes responsibility

For what goes forth returns, of that be sure

And you are that which you in others see

The naked frightened soul the poet saw

 

by Gail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brutal Truth

Brutal Truth

 Should we view images of death and evil in the media?

*

Brutal truth; how dare you burn our eyes

How dare you mark our quiet hearts with pain

Our gentle ears are deafened with your cries

Our worlds will never be the same again

Brutal truth; without you we deny

Ourselves, our fear, the part we have to play

So shine your fierce searchlight from the sky

Force in to form the shadows of the day

Brutal truth; unchain our memory

And rend the veil that shrouds a lie from sight

The evolution of humanity

Is in your hands; stir us to flight or fight

To know ourselves and know our enemy

Shifting deserts, oceans flowing free

*

by Gail